A couple in a bird nest with a ramp wave to their adult male child in a powered wheelchair as he leaves the nest

Empty Nest Again

As any typical parent will experience the day when your last child leaves the childhood home.  At this point we are called “empty nesters”.  This is met with different emotions.  Many parents feel this is a goal we should all look forward to.

Being an empty nester comes with some advantages. Your grocery bill is lower, and that also includes the electric and water bills. In my opinion, the most significant advantage is the house stays cleaner and more organized.

Missing my children

The other side of being that empty nester is missing the daily interactions with your child. In my experience, one child left at a time. My middle child, being the second son, left first after his college graduation and obtaining a job in Philadelphia. He was so anxious and excited to get his first apartment and job in the city.

The second child was our youngest. Our daughter married and moved up to Allentown a few years after our son left.  Each child leaving is an adjustment for us parents. The house grows quiet with just the memories of holidays, school days, and sporting events that kept us busy over the years.

One child still left at home

So now we have our first born home with us. With the passing years we needed to focus on his daily needs as his body became weaker from his neuromuscular disease, spinal muscular atrophy. We were able to meet his needs without the help of his siblings, but it was becoming apparent that our ability to provide him with the physical care needed began to wane.

Each of us began to worry if my husband and I could continue to do our part in keeping him safe. Our own physical strength was just not feeling as assured that we had enough for his care going into our golden years. And Mike himself was becoming more nervous about our abilities.

Our abilities as caregivers start to decline

We had some serious discussions on this issue. I felt very confident that we could continue with his daily needs for all the domestic issues, such as providing meals, cleaning, etc. But it was now time to look into having a caregiver help with his physical needs. These discussions never provided the answers though.

Looking for caregiving solutions

It was during these years that Mike met a young woman at the local YMCA where he sat on the Board. They began seeing each other and really enjoyed the dating life. Within the next few years we retired and now decided it was time for us to downsize and move to a retirement community. We were planning on Mike coming with us.

This was also the year he entered into a state program where they provide the financial assistance for him to get a paid caregiver.  We were very grateful as we too would benefit from this program to not only provide hours of each day he could hire someone to come in a give him and us the physical strength needed for lifting and we would still provide the domestic needs.

A caregiver and a partner

As we were in the process of downsizing he decided to leave home and live with his girlfriend and her parents.  It was the most difficult experience of all our children leaving.  Most of all to worry that his needs would be met and he would be safe.  A very different experience compared to his healthy siblings leaving home.  As a parent you just pray that each child makes all the right decisions and that they are happy. 

We are adjusting to our new role as “Empty Nesters”. We really enjoy when each one still comes home to visit.

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