RENEE ORDWAY

Empty nest means it’s time to take up a hobby and start talking to each other again

Posted June 28, 2013, at 3:17 p.m.
Last modified June 29, 2013, at 8:51 a.m.
Renee Ordway
Renee Ordway

“How about fly fishing?” I shouted out as my husband and I drove along Interstate 95 last week.

He appeared puzzled.

“Maybe we could learn to fly fish,” I said with enthusiasm.

Granted my question was out of the blue, but it was in response to a conversation I’ve been having in my head for several weeks now.

Unfortunately my husband can’t always keep up with these conversations, which occasionally frustrates me.

A few weeks earlier I suggested purchasing two kayaks.

Before that I asked him if he ever thought about selling our house.

He seems puzzled each time.

Weeks before our first child was born I found myself lingering in the soon-to-be baby’s room, neatly folding onesies, taking stock of wet naps and diapers and lotions.

I made and froze casseroles, scrubbed the bathroom and organized all that needed organizing.

I, of course, was nesting.

I had read all about it months before the baby was due.

Nesting it seems is a natural, almost physical phenomenon among most expectant mothers of which I was one.

I prepared a lovely nest with pastel curtains and baby panda wallpaper and cozy blankets and adorable outfits.

Daddy bird, however, was happy with his one self-appointed chore which was to research and purchase a video camera before the big day.

“It’ll all work out,” he’d say over and over as I fretted and flitted about fussing over this gigantic, yet oh-so-teeny and cute addition to our lives.

But someone needed to prepare — to fuss and worry — or else how could we be sure this transition would go smoothly?

That was about 21 years ago.

Since then our house has been full of kids and our lives have been dedicated to them.

At one point we had four — count ‘em, four — teenagers here: our two, plus our niece and nephew who we were raising.

I remember lamenting that I couldn’t even change my clothes in our bedroom without one of them knocking on the door asking to come in.

Last week our youngest passed his driver’s test. He starts his senior year in high school in the fall. This summer he is working a full-time job.

If my husband didn’t know what I was talking about as I babbled on about fly fishing while we traveled down I-95 last week, it’s because he hasn’t been reading enough books or magazine articles.

For today, 21 years later, I am empty-nesting.

I am clearing out clutter, tossing worn-out baseball cleats, filling bags destined for Goodwill with old books, clothes and toys.

I am scouring online decorating sites with dreams of neatly organized offices and dens dancing in my head.

“Maybe we no longer need a couch” I propose to him.

“Better yet, maybe we should sell the house, move into something much smaller, easier to clean,” I suggest.

“Maybe an apartment in downtown Bangor?”

“What do you think? Huh? What do you think?”

He can’t keep up.

According to a study by Susan Brown, co-director of the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University, the divorce rate for the general population has stayed about the same since the 1980s, but the divorce rate has doubled for couples over the age of 50.

Empty nesters need to prepare for this transition. All of the websites I’ve read say so.

We need to remember what we liked about each other when we met 25 years ago. We need to remember what we used to like to do before we had children. We need to get physically fit and try to look attractive for one another. We need to linger over romantic dinners again and fill our house with our favorite music instead of the blaring of the TV set.

We need hobbies!

That’s the conversation I was having in my head as we traveled down the road and blurted out the fly fishing idea.

Oh, that’s the other thing, we have got to remember to talk to each other again — about interesting things.

I guess I’ll give it a try, but I think the inside of my head is going to miss our conversations.

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