Nest feeling a little too empty

I have always encouraged my daughters to be independent, strong-willed women. Life is too short to ignore your dreams and squander all that this world has to offer.

"Spread your wings and show the world what you are capable of!"

So when my daughter Katie graduated from college a little over a year ago, it didn't surprise me when she told me what her intent was. The master plan was to come home and work. Save up money and then eventually take the plunge and move to none other than New York City.

"Excellent!" I said to her. "Good for you! Set that goal and then go get it."

True to her word, Katie returned from college and took on several jobs, sometimes going weeks on end without a day off. She enviously watched her friends move to the city or elsewhere and start their adult lives while she lived at home with her parents. I know it wasn't easy for her, but I have to admit I was pretty proud.

But then, out of nowhere and without warning, something totally unexpected happened that caught me completely off guard.

She moved to New York.

In August, literally within a few days, she found both a job and an apartment in the Big Apple. Before I knew it, we were packing the car and heading east. Mind you, this was just weeks before my oldest daughter was getting married, so in my defense, the emotions were already running pretty high.

"Wait, did you think I was serious? I was just doing my best Mike Brady impression! Don't you want to stay close to Mom and Dad for the rest of your life?"

Of course, I didn't say those words out loud. But when the reality hit that she was actually following her dream, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little sad. Proud, but sad.

At least the move went smoothly, or as smoothly as moving to NYC in 95 degree heat can be. We unpacked the car, made the obligatory trip to Target and after several tearful hugs, my wife and I were on our way back home, grappling with the reality that we are now truly empty-nesters.

Now I have one daughter in New York and another married and living in Michigan. My youngest is finishing her final year of college in Cleveland. Naturally, I won't hesitate to encourage her to chase her dreams. But hopefully when she reads this, she'll know it's OK to live close to Mom and Dad, too.

Go be fantastic humans, girls! Just don't forget there will always be a place for you in Hinsdale.

- John Bourjaily of Golfview Hills is a contributing columnist. Readers can email him at [email protected].