Next Chapter: Naked and Running Around


By Heidi Hess

The call came in late Monday morning. “She’s gone and I don’t know what to do with myself.” I’m a woman of a certain age and a lot of my friends are going through the same thing. Empty Nest Syndrome. My kids are still in high school but not for long. My bestie has experienced all of these things before me. Her kids are a little older and she has been able to guide me through things… the first time I dropped my daughter off at elementary school and had to watch her walk in and rely on people other than me, the horror of middle school, the turbulent high school years, the heartbreak of cruel people… the list goes on and on. We have always leaned on each other. Today is no exception.  

For a lot of my friends, their houses are empty now and my friend was asking the very question that a lot of moms and dads ask themselves when the kids leave the nest – what do we do now? I tried being rational. “Remember when she drove away in the car for the first time by herself? Did she come back? She was fine, remember?” That didn’t work. I tried comforting her “She’s rooming with her best friend and her boyfriend isn’t far away.” That didn’t work either. 

I know her well enough to know that when all else fails it’s time to get crazy. “So you have two vacant rooms now?” She confirmed that the rooms that her littles had occupied were in fact vacant. “Good. Here’s what you need to do: Get naked, drink sangria, dance and run around the house yelling at the top of your lungs. The first room, turn into a drum circle arena. The second put large tarps on the floor, throw down some paint and roll around in it. This is now your painting room.” 

After she stops laughing, she says she feels better. Who doesn’t feel better after a good laugh? Even though I’m being silly in suggesting those crazy things… she could actually do that. What’s to stop her? Nothing. Our kids get new chapters in their lives and so do we. Will they probably do some crazy things? Lord, I hope so. The great thing about being a bit older is that you care less about what other people think and get a little more brazen in your craziness. 

I just hope that she has the common sense after that bottle of sangria to pull the blinds before she gets naked and runs around the house… hmmm… or not?