Empty Nest: Two of a Kind?

A Grown and Flown friend writes: Last month I returned home feeling blue from a weekend visit to see our daughter at college. I barked at my husband on the car ride home. (That’s when I spoke to him.  Mostly I sulked and read the NYTimes).  I’m getting better, however, because this time the wave of sadness passed more quickly. When she returned to school recently after an extended winter break, I found myself teary-eyed and experienced separation anxiety all over again.  This time I was angry at myself for still being upset when we left her. After all, my daughter is doing extremely well.  She has adjusted beautifully. What’s wrong with me? When am I going to adjust to my new life in my empty nest without her around?

Part of the problem is that I so strongly identify with her, I sometimes feel like I can barely breathe without her.  It doesn’t help that we look alike (or so everyone says) and that we are extremely close.  And even though I knew this was coming, I failed to properly prepare myself. Anyway, for some clarity, and while I was not sleeping last night, I made a list of all the ways we are different.

She is soft-spoken, sweet and a bit shy.  I tend to be louder.
She is generally even-tempered, and takes things in stride.  I need lots of yoga to stay calm.

She is tall and I’m 5’3 on a good day.
She knows when she’s had enough.  I  prefer to drive myself to exhaustion.
She gets over things quickly.  I can hold a grudge for years.

I hate to fly and prefer to travel by car to familiar places.  She likes adventure.
I’m a notorious worrier.  She thinks my worrying is over-the-top (it is.)
I love to hike.  She won’t take a walk if her life depends on it.
I was miserable my first year of college.  She’s loving it.
I like to follow politics.  She follows football.

So you see, we hardly have anything at all in common!  I shouldn’t have trouble focusing on myself and what I’d now like to do with my life, distinct from her. But in the meantime, only seven more days until her spring break – I can hardly wait!  I’ll bet I won’t even notice when she’s gone back to school next time.

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