The Empty Nest, Refilled

9 05 2009

I am in Sioux Falls visiting.

It’s strange to think that D has moved back to his family’s house, where he grew up. He was laid off his last job and has not been able to find anything new so he moved home to work for his high school employer, Linx Limited, until he finds a new job. His days consist of working around the house helping his parents, working at Linx, working with his dad in his dad’s business, Kitchen Solvers and job searching. It has become his biggest priority to find a new job, but unfortunately, the job market has become nonexistent. The few offerings that exist are aimed at people who have years of experience, experience that newly graduated college students have not acquired and cannot acquire unless they are hired. It’s a strange paradox.

The strangest thing about him moving home is that he is 24 years old and graduated from college and he has reverted back to a position that he occupied as a child and young adult. The adjustment mentally and emotionally is difficult, going from the relative freedom of Mankato and college life to moving home where the parents make the rules, the privacy and freedom has been diminished and the student now feels differently about living in an environment like the family home.

I thought about where I would move if I had to leave Mankato after graduation. This is purely hypothetical because I have a job in Mankato where I receive benefits, an apartment that I have signed a lease for, and a lot of friends and memories, so ideally, I would continue to live here til I leave for grad school or a better job. Upon thinking about where I would go, I figured out that it would probably be Anoka, where Cheryl (my stepmom) has her house.

So…this is strange…to think that moving home would be moving to my stepmom’s house, a place I have never lived, only visited. I spent a bit of time there a few winters ago when I was in town for my dad and Cheryl’s wedding as well as for my grandfather’s funeral. I can barely imagine living there because it isn’t my home or anything, there are no good memories there for me and it really does feel like somewhere to visit. It’s gorgeous…small and cottage-like, but definitely not homey.

What an interesting thought…that students move home after college, after all those years of development and maturation. Most students feel a sense of independence and freedom at college, unhampered by rules and parents watching over their shoulders; it must be hard to adjust to moving home. It is interesting that some students enjoy moving home to the security of their parents, where they are pampered, cleaned up after, moved back into their rooms which have been untouched since high school, where the mom does their laundry and cooks their meals. I guess it depends on your experiences at college and how close you are to your family to decide whether the transition is a smooth one or a rocky one.

It must be hard on parents, as well, to have their empty nests refilled. Some parents probably welcome their children coming home after all those years of absences, but for others who have adjusted to the quieter, less complicated homes without children, it might be hard to get used to the clutter, the extra mouth at the table, the bigger piles of laundry and the extra noise around the house. I can imagine that this second move home is not an extended one for most students, and that many are ready to get on with the next chapter in their lives and just use their parents’ home as home base as they get ready for buying their own house and getting their first grown up jobs.

Perhaps none of us can expect to have empty nests forever, whether it is the first welcoming of a new child into the home as young parents, or the older child returning from college for the summer or after graduation. For the parents who have brought these fledglings into the world, the nest is never truly empty.

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