By Randi Crawford
About a month ago, I received a text from a frustrated friend. She said that once your kids start getting serious about sports, especially at the high school level, there’s no time for anything else in your life.
She wrote, “Our lives have become ridiculous. The only time I see people is when I go to weddings or funerals. We don’t ever hang out with friends because our life is consumed with our kids’ sports. I want to make a concerted effort to change that and start living the way our parents did, and spending more quality time with our friends.”
My first reaction was that I agreed with her. Everything she said was accurate. Our family is totally consumed by youth sports. Everyone in my “bubble” is generally on a sports team with our kids, and while I have non-sports friends, I rarely hang out with them. What’s wrong with that picture, besides everything?
It’s wrong that it should be so difficult to hang out with people you enjoy because you are too busy with youth sports. I’m not even sure when this transition took place, but gradually, over the years, it’s become our only way of life. In other words, without sports commitments on the weekends, we’re pretty much lost.
This week, I experienced a real empty nest. While planning the “Club Sport Summer Tour,” we didn’t realize that we had an overlap of both kids being gone at the same time. My husband and our son were on the East Coast for a tournament, and my daughter was invited to go on vacation with a family friend.
And behold, I was left alone (with two dogs), for four nights and five days. Moms, can you even begin to imagine? At first I was like a kid in a candy store. My head was spinning with freedom and a serious lack of responsibility. I didn’t do laundry, cook or clean until the day they were all coming home. If you know me, you would think an alien invaded my body and hijacked my brain. I’m a laundry ninja. And my house is always stocked.
It was one of the most surreal weeks of my life (at least my life since having children). Here is just some of what I did when left alone: I actually went out for a GNO (girls night out) and had fun, imagine that? I watched Netflix into the wee hours of the night. (Can’t do that when my husband is home.) I slept in, worked out, read an entire book by the pool, perfected my tan, did some writing, got my hair cut and colored, and even worked in a 90-minute massage.
I mean seriously, this was epic. But on the fourth day, it got weird.
By Saturday, I wanted my family home. I got lonely. I woke up, looked around, and nobody was home. I even missed the fighting. I know, I can’t believe it either, but it was so quiet that I started to seriously freak out. My husband being gone added to the weirdness of the situation, but if this is what an “empty nest” feels like, yikes. How are we (moms) supposed to go from full speed to zero? It’s just so unnatural. When your kids need you, that’s natural. Yes, it can be exhausting, but it makes us tick.
So this got me to thinking about the text from my friend last month, when she referenced that our lives are too revolved around our kids and their sports. Without my kids home and sports to drive them to, after a few days, I was seriously questioning my sanity.
I even went to watch my nephew play lacrosse, and he was wondering why I was there if my own son wasn’t in town. I spoke with a friend and she admitted that she would have no idea what to do without her family home.
Balance is a boring and overused word, but so true. We have to find balance so that when we do experience the “empty nest” for real, we don’t lose our minds with the silence that lingers in the house.
Have you experienced empty nest this summer with kids at camp? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.