Signs you're not yet used to an empty nest

My nest is empty once again, now that Brianna has moved into her new house. Jim and I were here once before, for a very brief period of time when Andrea and Megan were away at college and Brianna lived with some girlfriends.

Then Brianna moved home. And Andrea needed time to figure out her next move after college graduation.

But now with Megan married, Andrea fully ensconced in the life of a single, independent woman and Brianna settled into her new place, the nest is once again empty.

And this time I think it's for good.

And I'm having a little trouble getting used to it. Not emotionally -- I'm thrilled the girls are out on their own and succeeding as adults. It's the smaller habits of a full household that I've not yet been able to break, little things here and there that as I do them, I realize I'm not yet used to an empty nest.

I've started a list of those little things I've noticed myself and other empty nesters I know doing, the signs that we've not yet adjusted to the kids being gone. If you have an empty nest, let me know the signs you've noticed, the habits you're trying to break. And you younger folks -- you whippersnappers whose parents are still trying to get used to life without you (no matter how long it's been!) -- now's your chance to vent about the wacky ways of your empty-nesting mom and dad.

SIGNS YOU'RE NOT YET USED TO AN EMPTY NEST

  • You still lock the bathroom door because it's always been the only place you could get a little privacy.
  • You have stacks of empty shoe boxes you can't get rid of because you never know when one of the kids may need one for a school project.
  • You throw away lots of fruit and vegetables each week, as you're unable to eat all the apples, oranges, kiwi, carrots and bananas that have been a staple of your weekly shopping trip for years.
  • Or your freezer is overfilled with frozen black bananas you've saved for making banana bread instead of throwing them away.
  • Your freezer is also packed with loaves of frozen banana bread because you have used some of the bananas already.
  • You still have a file folder of crafts and recipes you've torn out of magazines that you never got around to doing with the kids. But you keep the folder -- and continue adding to it -- because now your plan is to eventually use them with the grandkids.
  • You still buy the same number of rolls of toilet paper you have for the past 20 years and now have enough on hand to stock the bathrooms of all your kids ... and your neighbors ... and their kids.
  • Same goes for tampons.
  • You find yourself dumping out gallons of spoiled milk on a regular basis because it just doesn't feel right to buy the half-gallon containers.
  • You catch yourself saying, "Keep it down ... the kids will hear you" in the middle of arguments.
  • And in the bedroom.
  • You make three times the amount of dinner you and your spouse will eat.
  • Which means you have quart-size baggies of  comfort foods -- chili, crockpot soup and sausage gravy -- stacked in between the mountains of bananas in the freezer.
  • Which also means you have very little room left for the frozen pizzas, burritos, Hot Pockets and other favorites of the kids that you still habitually fill your shopping your cart with.
  • You've found you kind of like the taste of Cocoa Puffs and Fruit Snacks since the cupboard looks bare without them.
  • You pull curtains, sheets off unused beds, rugs, throws and more to wash each week as the three loads of laundry created by you and your husband don't a laundry day make.
  • Once you settle into bed at night you realize you forgot to shut off the hall light, the light you always left on so the kids would get safely to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
  • Same goes for the porch light, but you decide to leave it on ... just in case one of the kids decides to come home in the middle of the night. In need of some comfort food. Which they know they'll find in the freezer. Right next to the bananas.