Adjusting To My NEW Norm

by Mariann E. Danko

Now that my Son is officially at college, my nest is very empty. With it just me at home, it’s really sinking in that I’m by myself.

This is a norm I have never experienced. I have been single most of my life, but I have always had a “roommate” whether it is family, partner or actual roommate.

This is a norm that will take more time to adjust to than I ever imagined. 

95529519 - the girl is holding a nest of branches in her hands,

For 18 years and 8 months, my daily routine revolved around my work schedule and my Son’s schedules; whether it be daycare, school, extra-curricular or work over the Summer.

Only having to deal with my schedule feels very strange.

This time of year was always our craziest too because of marching band/football season. Not having that is like putting salt into a gaping wound.

I have helped out at the football games as a means to get out of the house, but it’s just not the same without my Son in the band.

Again, it’s the gaping wound.

Not that I don’t enjoy hanging with the band parents, it’s just that not officially being part of it any more makes me feel like I’m clinging onto the past.

It has made me realize though it’s time to work on letting go of that too, which will be easier than adjusting to my empty nest.

I certainly don’t miss all the craziness, especially juggling my work schedule so I can get home early on a Friday.

Crazy Schedule

The first weekend as an empty-nester I started my official list of projects that are either new or need to be completed, having been started over the course of my Son’s high schools, but never finished. As I have noted in previous posts, I have them a plenty.

The problem I have now is which ones to attack first. AND, managing my time now that I have a little more to play with, SOMETIMES.

I’m already finding out I felt more productive when I was busier.

Although, in my defense, I have been doing overtime every week for months now, so during the week all I want to do is come home, eat and go to bed. Some days it’s so late when I get home I’d be content to just go to bed.

On a side note – overtime is not the norm for me. In all the years I’ve been raising my Son, it was an hour here and there. So I find it interesting that now that my Son is away at college, and I only have me to worry about, the need for overtime is a must.

I realize these projects obviously don’t have a deadline, but none-the-less, I’d like to get them completed, and I like to be busy. I’ve always been a list person and find great pleasure in checking things off. It’s very rewarding.

A co-worker told me to be kinder to myself and allow myself time to just do nothing.

I can honestly say I don’t know how to do that.

Take a Break

That is something very foreign to me after 18 years of single parenting. AND, during those years also caring for my aging Mother. Plus, volunteering for school and band activities.

My life has been so full at times I didn’t know whether I was coming or going. This is something I most certainly don’t miss, although with the overtime it’s beginning to feel kind of the same.

The first two weeks of my NEW NORM were extremely tough, especially coming home to an empty house. Eating dinner alone was even more challenging than I anticipated.

I was a bit mopey here and there, but somewhere between the third and fourth week, I began working on creating a NEW evening routine.

Acknowledging the need for a NEW ROUTINE has been the key to adjusting to my NEW NORM.

The first thing I did was change the seat I normally sat in when my Son was home. This way the empty seat at the dinner table isn’t as obvious.

Seems simple, but it has helped.

The TV has become somewhat of a companion, which probably isn’t that good, but my Son and I always had certain shows we watched together so having the TV on while I eat really isn’t that foreign.

In addition I can watch as many hokey Hallmark movies my heart desires. (What can I say; I’m a sucker for the sappy, predictable romance movies.)

With each day my NEW NORM is slowly becoming just the NORM. AND, I’m OK with that.

Pondering being alone

My Son loves college and has already made friends. This is all good and as a friend said to me, that means you did your job. If he were missing home too much, it wouldn’t be a good thing.

The true test will be how I am after my Son comes home for Homecoming and his Fall break next month.

Will I fall prey to the same emotions I felt when my Son first left for college or will I, like him, be content with my NEW NORM and be just fine?

Check back next month for that answer.

I will hopefully also have news about the transitioning of this blog to “Waking the Woman Inside the Mom – a Mother’s quest to rediscover herself after her Son leaves for college.”


© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Walker, 2018. All rights reserved.

Empty Nest – Copyright : Iaroslav Danylchenko