I work from home by choice. As an introvert, working in an office surrounded by people and chatter all day long is mentally and physically draining. I learned this about myself about a decade ago and made a conscious decision to hone my skills, find clients and open my own copywriting and blogging business. It happened and is thriving.
That being said. I do crave human interaction. That need had always been met by my family. Even though they all work outside of the home, I had that human contact, conversation and a hug before they left the house pretty much every day. I knew that our workdays would end and we would all end up back in the house, gathered around the dinner table.
And then, about five years ago, my son moved out. He had a great job and had just purchased a house. It’s what kids do. They become fantastic adults and then move on. I cried like a baby when he and his friends were packing up his room. I cried for many days after — every time I walked by his empty room. A room which I kept empty for several months, you know, just on the off chance he’d come back.
I was all right. I still had my daughter. That was true until yesterday when she, too, flew the nest. Again, she has a great job and she and her boyfriend wanted to move out of our tiny town to a place more suited for young adults. They both have great jobs and this is definitely a step they should have taken. It doesn’t make it any easier. When Alexa moved out I didn’t cry too much in front of her because of her empathetic nature it would have hurt her more than it hurt me to keep my feelings inside.
This morning I woke up and walked Henrietta. The first thing that hit me was that their cars weren’t in the driveway. Cue tears. At the time I am writing this post she would typically be getting up for work and bustling around. Today, no bustling.
My daughter’s room will remain vacant for a while, you know, just in case…
I know that a parent’s job is to raise happy, healthy adults who are ready to take on the world and I know that we’ve done that.” I am proud of my kids each and every day, but that doesn’t take away the sound of a house that is now far too silent.
Granted, neither of my children have moved more than 20 miles away, but it’s a different animal when you don’t see their faces every day. I truly never thought I’d be hit by the empty nest syndrome. I realize it hasn’t even been 24 hours, but so far it is a lonely, silent fewer than 24 hours.
As to the ode to Henrietta. When I got her, close to nine years ago, it was after much research and planning. I knew what I needed in a pet and a poodle fit the bill perfectly. Henrietta has been with me through many cry-inducing events. She was a tiny puppy when my father was hospitalized and in a coma around Christmastime several years ago. I’d spend long hours at the hospital, come home, curl up on the couch and cry until I fell asleep — Henrietta pressed tightly to my chest. She was there for me when my dad passed away a couple of years ago.
She sits silently in my lap when I come home from visiting my mother in the nursing home and am physically and emotionally spent. I cry and pet her and some of my tension eases and I am able to face the rest of the day.
When I was given a cancer diagnosis a month before my 50th birthday she comforted me and didn’t judge when I would cry and scream and be angry about it. Following my surgeries, treatments and recovery she was vigilant about keeping the other pets away while I convalesced in a recliner. When there were no words I could come up with to ask my family for help getting through it all, she was there. There are simply times when you just don’t know what someone can do to help and all you need is silence and understanding.
As my sister will tell you, I am a crier. It is my superpower. Crying in public is where I draw the line, but in the privacy of my home I can’t hide my emotions.
Today, as I begin the process of growing accustomed to the absolute silence in the house during my workday I will pat my leg and say, “who needs some love” and when Henrietta comes running and presses into me, I won’t quite be able to tell who is giving the love to whom.