My daughter Molina had an amazing first year at college! My wife and I survived our first time as Empty Nesters! She now had fallen in love with Montana, a mere 19 hours from home. She loved her classes, made new friends, and was enjoying her exploration of this beautiful land. Then we were hit with the news that would change the world, COVID 19. This meant that she would come home for Winter break and not return for quite some time, 7 months in fact! Now, I must confess that we had a wonderful time having her home with us again. But, as time went on, I knew she wanted and needed to get back to Montana, her new home. I had some health issues, was worried what Kori and I would do for jobs now, and worried about when life would return to normal. I know that my daughter thought that it would be best to stay home, but my wife and I reassured her that her place was in Montana. We are so proud of all she had accomplished that first half of year and knew that she had more to do and deserved it!
My daughter, although exceptionally successful when it came to academics in high school, did not have the most exciting or normal time in high school. She tried, but just couldn't get that feeling of fitting in. She ran for Rodeo Queen, joined clubs, and played Water Polo, but still she still felt like she did not fit into any of the clicks of high school Her Sophomore year was spent in and out of the hospital due to her Asthma. She ended up enrolled at home school and only attended a couple classes on campus by her Senior Year. My wife would tell her to not worry about fitting in, just be you! Maybe in college she would feel more comfortable with her peers and instructors.
My daughter was accepted to about 8 colleges, but chose one that was far from home, had a lot of snow in the winter (we are a native California beach family), and where she knew practically no one! Her bravery astonished me and also made us so proud of how self reliant and strong she had grown to be as a young woman. Her strength gave us strength to keep growing as well. We started a new company, came up with a list of new adventures, and decided to enjoy our new life together. Being an Empty Nester has taught me that this is a time of not only seeing your kids grow and succeed, but a time of reflection on a life well spent, but not over!
Yes, it would be hard leaving her in Montana, but we would be just fine saying "Goodbye" again. We knew she would be fine and call for advice or just to share her day. We would see Snapchats of her and her friends enjoying college life, or maybe get a text that just says, "missing you". It makes my heart so happy to see her flourish and blossom into a wonderful young woman. Daddy's little girl was now growing up on her own. My wife, like always, was right!
My son and his wife have also helped us enjoy our new Empty Nester life as they have successfully navigated their first year of marriage and now are expecting a baby, our first Grandchild. It brings a smile to my face everyday, actually several times a day! Soon they will be moving, getting new jobs, learning to be parents...yes I still will worry. But, both my children have shown me that this is not the end, but a new beginning with new adventures. I was afraid for so long of being an "Empty Nester", now I embrace it and so thankful to have my wife with me for the adventure.