When the nest is (really, really) empty.

This weekend was wonderful albeit filled with all the anxiety and discomfort of a family milestone. We packed up the older sister and the three-year-old non-stop talker (talkers are nothing new in our family) and headed to Santa Clara to bear witness to the conferral of degrees to the Santa Clara University class of 2018. My youngest child, my son of 22 years received his Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering. He graduated Cum Laude, lamenting that first quarter freshman year when the adjustment managed to damage his GPA. His choice to enter into a five-year program to accomplish his Masters in short order caused him to have a three-year undergraduate experience and leaving him .03 points away from the Magma Cum Laude honor.

He already rented his apartment and is raring to move in. It’s one day after graduation and he’s ready. His internship job is morphing into a full-time job for the summer while he begins his summer classes to get a jump on the master’s degree.

It’s now Sunday, Father’s Day. We clean up the house we rented nearby and pick him up for a quick lunch. He chooses a small but familiar diner type restaurant for our meal. It’s good hearty food and even the baby seems to enjoy the meal.

We return him to the house he’s lived in for the past few years that is so trashed and unkept he won’t let us go in. It’s more attributable to the slum lords that charge ridiculous amounts of money for college kids to live close to campus than the kids who actually live there. Things need regular upkeep and repair; this house for 8 gets neither.

We hug and say our goodbyes. He walks away. As we drive off I realize that even though his room is filled with his clothes and belongings that he will likely not return to call our house his home anymore. Well yes, it will always be his home, but not likely his residence.

Then it kinda hit me. We actually are real empty nesters. Like Shrek’s donkey says, “Really, really.” Neither of our two kids lives in our house.

They really don’t go away, but they are no longer a constant presence. Or am I kidding myself? I don’t know. This one just feels really different. He’s always been a little more standoffish, independent.

It just feels different.

So as we leave the Bay Area to go home I cry a little. Santa Clara University you have been good to my son. Thank you.

Pleasanton. Livermore. Tracy. Stockton.

One day he’ll understand how this silly separation seems so abysmal. And when that day comes, I’ll be old enough to know that it really wasn’t.

Congrats to the universities’ Class of 2018 and their parents. I wonder how many of us are feeling this way.


About Caro

I am a social worker by training and a peace officer by profession having worked with California’s delinquent youth and young adults for 28 years. I firmly believe that our development as humans depends on our environment and that sometimes we get stuck. As such, I write about those things we sometimes ignore or fail to see until we are forced to pay attention.
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