8 Best of the Empty Nest

Here are our 8 Best of the Empty Nest, the handful of beautiful musings that we feel encapsulate the journey from parenting in our homes full of little kids to parenting young adults striking out on their own. Some of these amazing writers offer us up their pain, most their humor and all their love.  Each tells their own story, and like all good writing, it becomes our story.  In no particular order:


1. Anna Quindlen, Flown Away, Left Behind, Newsweek

Anna Quindlen

Three rooms empty, full of the ghosts of my very best self.


2. Michael Gerson, Saying Goodbye to My Child, the Youngster, The Washington Post

Off to College

He has a wonderful future in which my part naturally diminishes. I have no possible future that is better without him close.

3. Lisa Belkin, How to Send Your Son Off to College, The New York Times

Campus Dorm Bed

Tucking, smoothing, plumping, it feels like it did 18 years ago, readying a bassinet for a life that was just about to begin.


4. Madeline Levine, After the Children Have Grown, The New York Times 

Empty Nest

Motherhood inextricably weaves growth and loss together from the moment of physical separation at birth to every milestone passed. Photo: Ruth Gwily

5. Sharon Greenthal, Commencement, Empty House, Full Mind

Graduating class

All that will matter is her, the woman she is and the woman she will continue to become.

6. Michael Winerip, So Ready to Send the Kids Off to College, The New York Times


Off to College, Empty Nest

“Mr. Winerip, it’s not that bad, I don’t want to give you a heart attack.” Photo: Jason Schneider


7. Marshall P. Duke, Starting College: A Guide for Parents, The Huffington Post

College Campus Move In

This is a moment to tell them the big things. Things you feel about them as children, as people. Wise things.

8. Ralph Gardner, Jr., A Freshman and the Emptying Nest, The Wall Street Journal

Empty Nest

My wife’s sadness was primal. Not that I’m suggesting mine wasn’t, but there may have also been a touch of envy. Photo: Robert Neubecker


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  1. This is a great collection. Although our nest has been empty for several years, I can still relate to the joy and sadness that comes as you come to terms with your child’s independence. I read Michael Gerson’s piece a few days ago and was really struck by his words, “I have no possible future that is better without him close.” Sad but true!
    Mo at Mocadeaux recently posted..Thoughts on Letting GoMy Profile

  2. Wonderful list! I look forward to reading through all of them this weekend after my daughter leaves to begin her sophomore year.
    Carpool Goddess recently posted..Dropping Your Child Off At College (Without Losing Your Mind)My Profile

    • While dropping our kids at their freshman dorms and then leaving is what most of these pieces speak to, the feeling of missing them remains during the four years they are in college. We know you have felt it and are about to, again. Good luck to your daughter….and to you.

  3. Thank you for including me in this list among such esteemed writers – I am truly honored.
    Sharon Greenthal recently posted..The Empty Nest: 25 Things I’m Glad I’ll Never Have to Do Again- Back to School EditionMy Profile

    • We loved your piece, Sharon, and were taken aback by how you remembered the freshman dorm drop off….four years later. Wonderful writing.

  4. Great compilation. I love this. My kids are not ready to leave for college yet (the oldest, twins, are entering fourth grade) but the fact their time at home with is short-lived is on my mind.
    Rebecca Hughes Parker recently posted..Milk Matters: Is Skim Milk as Good as We Thought?My Profile

    • Rebecca, you have a long way to go before you drop off your twins. Enjoy every crazy, lovely minute and thanks for visiting us.

  5. These are great and capture the sentiment so well. We spend 18 years teaching our children to be independent and to think for themselves, and when the time comes for them to go, we are heartbroken. All of our pride in who’ve they’ve become and the sadness of leaving them someplace that’s not our home culminates in tears we swore we weren’t going to shed. I still cry when I say goodbye to them at college, and they shake their heads and smile at me. Someday they will understand.
    Anne Vaccaro Brady recently posted..College Admissions News—the Numbers EditionMy Profile

  6. Thank you for a list of what looks like will be enjoyable, poignant, humorous, much to relate to writing.
    Barbara recently posted..Yarn and an empty nestMy Profile

    • these are among our favorite writers and are so happy to have assembled them here. Enjoy (don’t forget kleenex.)

  7. Thanks for compiling such a comprehensive list of talented writers who are so willing to share their emotions with us. Although it’s been a few years since I first faced an empty nest, that longing never quite goes away.
    Sheryl recently posted..How I Turned Into a Bag LadyMy Profile

    • Sheryl, I think it must be an unforgettable moment ….we will see in a year from now, ourselves, when our youngest go off to college.

  8. that’s a lovely group of musings. i think there’s a post or two or three of yours that should have been included as well.
    sandy recently posted..A ROAD TRIP TO THE GARDEN STATEMy Profile

  9. Great list! Thank you.
    Korinthia Klein recently posted..Detroit On My MindMy Profile

  10. Sweet blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo
    News. Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News?

    I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there!
    Many thanks
    Cierra recently posted..CierraMy Profile


  1. […] Here are our 8 Best of the Empty Nest, the handful of beautiful musings that we feel encapsulate the journey from parenting in our homes full of little kids to parenting young adults striking out on their own.  […]

  2. […] These, and other wonderful essays, are listed on the site Grown & Flown, at http://grownandflown.com/8-best-of-the-empty-nest/. […]

  3. […] 2000 and later included it in her collection entitled Loud and Clear.  In it, she expresses the sweet nostalgia for time when her children were just that, children, and her amazement in the adults they have […]

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