are to feel scared and wonder what it means for them. We had to address those fears immediately and directly.
“But you’re staying here in the house,” I said. “That’s not going to change. Dad and I will just move in and out and take turns taking care of you.” To my surprise, they both calmed down.
“Really? We don’t have to move? We’ll see you both?” I quickly nodded. “Yes, really. We promise.”
Now, almost five years later, we’ve kept that promise. The logistics of how Bill and I live outside of the nest have evolved over time. To start out, we found a place to share, although we never stayed there at the same time. We included the boys in the discussion, and they even helped move us into the new one-bedroom apartment with its little deck overlooking the woods out back.
My first evening alone was a mixture of exhilaration about the path ahead and intense worry over my children. I missed them. I’d spent nights away from them, of course, but always out of town and for a good reason. It was weird to know they were just a seven-minute drive down the road. Did they miss me, too? Did I want them to? I felt conflicted. Yes, I wanted them to miss me, but I didn’t want them to be sad. I FaceTimed with them to say goodnight. They told me how Dad had made pasta for dinner, that our dog Chloe had stolen a hunk of Parmesan cheese off the counter, and that they were playing Minecraft together now. I wished them goodnight and told them I loved them. “Love you, too, Mom!”
Bill and I chose to share an apartment because it was less expensive, easier than finding two places, and we weren’t 100 percent sure nesting was going to last. But the shared space also made it difficult to move on, because we were constantly confronted with evidence—like a new tie or two wine glasses in the dishwasher—that each of us was trying to figure out life without the other. It was hard not to obsess over what Bill was doing, whom he was with, and if that would confuse the boys or cause them pain.
We also had to work through the challenge of splitting up household tasks, distributing the financial responsibilities, and adjusting to new dynamics with family and friends—