The Empty Nest: 31 Parents Tell the Truth About Relationships, Love and Freedom After the Kids Fly the Coop
In this fascinating collection, journalist Karen Stabiner has assembled essays from thirty-one writers about their own experience with the empty nest. Parents whose children left home last week join those with grandchildren to explore how life changes once the offspring leave (unless, of course, they move back in again later). They represent the full range of experience -- from traditional nuclear families to single parents to gay parents to grandparents -- with humor, grace, and poignancy.
"This collection, edited by Stabiner (My Girl: Adventures with a Teenin Training), includes essays by such well-known authors as Anna Quindlen, Ellen Goodman and Susan Shreve, as well as lesser knowns. Mothers write the bulk of the stories, though a handful of dads, such as Charles McGrath, help to balance the
perspective. Quindlen, always a reliable sage, writes that the empty nest is emptier than ever before by virtue of the fact that so many mothers of her generation threw themselves so wholeheartedly into the role. Alongside the recurring motif of parents sighing forlornly at the threshold of their children's empty rooms, there is also a place for humor ("You lose a child, you gain a sex life," writes Letry Cottin Pogrebin in the essay "Epiphanies of the Empty Nest") as well as a sense of optimism and rebirth ("I felt myself standing a little taller, like a plant reaching up toward the sun," observes Marian Sandmaier). While many of these essays address kids leaving for college, one mother laments a son who died of a heart ailment and another a boy who has set off for Iraq. This varied and compassionate collection may not mitigate the empty nesters' pain, but it should make them feel that they're in good company as they navigate this parental rite of passage."
"As the mother of two teenage daughters, including a high school senior, I opened The Empty Nest with trepidation, but finished it filled with gratitude and insight. Karen Stabiner has brought together an amazing collection of parents who share their intimate stories of what it means to have an empty bedroom down the hall, and a child out on her own. Sometimes funny, sometimes heartrending, this book is a valuable road map through one of life's most daunting transitions."
"This honest, insightful collection is for parents at any stage of the process -- reminding us that the highest accomplishment of parenting is to raise children who can joyfully and successfully leave the nest, and to be the kind of parent who can let them go."
"While nothing thrills a reader more than the deepest emotions given life by gifted writers, the essays in The Empty Nest, edited by Karen Stabiner, take the complex parting between parents and their growing children to a new level. With breathtaking candor, humor and elegance, these essays probe the ambivalence of being laid off from the one job that -- no matter what else we do - will be our most important contribution to the world. The Empty Nest is a deeply affecting banquet of thoughts on the only love that must grow toward separation. You thought you knew the last word about saying goodbye; but, until now, you were mistaken."