The Art of Filling an Empty Nest

As spring nears, I embark on a season of birthdays for those new to my family.  These are the birthdays of my new children.  Both my grown children have married within the last few years.  They both knew their spouses for over 5 years before marrying, so, although newly married, I have known them both now for quite some time.

However long I have known them they are both not only welcome additions to my grown children’s lives but to my life as well. As I have alluded to in the past, each has the bountiful gift of intelligence and humor.  My son in law can make fun of an obnoxious fool with the wit of a comedic savant.  The only person who will not know they are the butt of his joke is the obnoxious fool (and anyone not paying attention).  It is an art form at its highest level and good for a raucous laugh and endless storytelling.  When decorum and niceties prevail, but that one obnoxious fool continues, my new son-in-law to the rescue is the perfect medicine.  It is his profound intelligence that allows this sleuth like humor to avoid conflict and allows an otherwise antagonistic situation to turn to one of immense humor.

My new daughter-in-law, although quiet and reserved on the surface, also has a subtle yet biting sense of humor.   She takes you by complete surprise and brings you to your knees in both astonishment and revere.  On one occasion, as we prepared for a family gathering, my husband was rattling off complaints of some sort or another, either it was too hot, or too much work, or I had asked him to complete some “unnecessary” tasks, (probably that one) and she bluntly asked him, “would you like me to get you a tampon and some Pamprin.. maybe some cranberry juice?”  My husband, also not too shabby in the dry humor department, at this remark, bowled over  …he could not contain himself – “Check-mate!  I bow to you”, he said.  We all laughed for days over that one, and continue to tell the story often.

These two are diamonds; which, of course, I believe my children deserve.  They are well made matches all around.  Although humor was a staple in my children’s home, many of the things their partners have brought to the table were not.  For example, my son-in-law is an aficionado in the sleeping late department, which, for my daughter, is the trait that sealed the deal!   For a young woman who believes a Saturday nap till two in the afternoon is what weekends are designed for, she has met her match.

For my son, one, of the new additions his wife has brought to his life is the world of fine cooking and dining.   My daughter-in-law, a writer by trade, can write a description of boiled water that would make you drool.  She appreciates the subtleties of texture, color, and the intricacies of taste.  For a boy raised on Hamburger Helper this can only heighten his senses in every way!

These are single examples in a litany of what each has brought to the table in terms of each of their lives. They have made good matches!  They have chosen partners that not only are gifted genetically, as each is both bright and beautiful, but they are both well educated.  Beyond their education they are each profoundly aware; they each have a personality uniquely suited to my children and for that I am eternally grateful. 

The incorporation of new individuals into a family, infusing new and different ways of looking at the world, experiencing its nuances and sharing it with each other and with their father and I has been an unexpected addition and joy in my life.  The empty nest syndrome is very real.  It has its very real times of loneliness, sadness, and regret.  But the infusion of new and vibrant personalities into my life has been one of the greatest joys of this period of time in my life.  So for those going through this or soon to be, take heart, there is so much more to share and learn!

With this in mind, I would like to take this opportunity to thank both my “new children” for the joy they have brought to our family, but most importantly for loving my children in a way that makes me happy and secure in their future happiness.  I would also like to take this opportunity to wish my new children both a very happy birthday and thank them from the bottom of my heart for taking my treasures and keeping them safe with their love, their respect, and their friendship.


Written by:
Tara Ubelhor M.Ed., LPC