School’s back in session, and I have no children at home. Last year began our empty nest syndrome when our baby went off to college. It was a sad 5 hour ride home with tears filling my husband and my eyes wondering what we were going to do now? We had spent the past 11 years involved in high school sports. That was our social life. That was our ticket out of the small town we live in for those games against distant schools. The playoffs/state tournaments were our vacations. It was hard to believe it had all come to an end. The first few days were tough. The empty bedrooms and quiet house added to the heartache I felt. For 24 years I had defined myself for the most part as mother and caretaker.
Now I was back to my main role as wife. I realized the years rearing our four daughters had distanced me from my husband. I was more in tune to the needs of the girls and busy with the school activities, that I had not paid him a lot of attention. Now it was back to just us two. At first I was a bit anxious about how we would get along. What would we have to talk about? I decided to ask him to attend Worldwide Marriage Encounter with me. I thought this would be a great opportunity to open up the lines of communication. It did do that, especially for me, as I have a hard time expressing my feelings. [Remember I’m Scaredy Cat.]
What helped the most though, was entrusting myself, and my marriage to the Blessed Mother. With Her, WE [Blessed Mom and I] can see how special this time is for my husband and me. There are a lot of graces that come with an empty nest. WE now have time in the mornings for prayer without kid distractions. WE can cook exotic recipes. WE have fewer worries about what the girls are up to or what time they are coming home at night. WE [Bl. Mom, husband and me] can go on vacations that do not entail high school sports!
When I start to get nostalgic about life when the girls were here, WE can remember to be grateful for those memories, but then turn the focus on living in the present moment. Also, WE can accept the fact that the loneliness I feel is a special grace which leads me into the comfort of my Blessed Mother’s arms. She understands loneliness, as She was alone [humanly speaking] at the Annunciation, at the foot of the Cross, and while awaiting Pentecost.
There is a great section in the book Open Wide the Door to Christ, by S.C. Biela that describes this loneliness from a spiritual point of view:
“The grace of loneliness is one of the most precious gifts that God gives to us on our path to sanctity. We encounter the Lord in the deepest way, and our communion takes place with Him, in loneliness. Blessed is the poverty of loneliness in which a person discovers that truth about himself, as well as the truth about God and His love.”
“Every person who wants to open himself up to God has to accept loneliness at home with his family, in a relationship with a husband or wife, and in raising children. It is necessary to fall in love with poverty at work, during prayer, and even in contact with those to whom we are united by spiritual bonds. If it were not for blessed loneliness, faith would not deepen in us, and we would never desire God before all else. In the light of faith, we see that we are certainly never alone because the Father who loves us is always close to us.”
Yes, my husband and I are adjusting to the empty nest. The pangs of loneliness hit hardest after visits from our daughters. But for me, I can look at this loneliness with Blessed Mom, and WE can thank our Lord for this special time knowing it brings purification on my road to sanctification and that realization brings joy on my journey!
 S.C. Biela, Open Wide the Door to Christ, (Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005), 178.
 Ibid. 176-177.