Life as an Empty Nester


by Jodi Moskowitz

Six years ago, as my husband and I drove away from the campus of Vassar College I realized that we had officially become “empty nesters”.  What would this next phase of my life look like, I wondered?  My husband’s day-to-day life would change very little.  He would still get up and go to work five days a week, but what about me? Sure, there would be less laundry and meal prep would be easier, but how would I adjust to not having my children at home?

I loved having them around. I had made the decision when they were young to become a stay-at-home parent, and while I was so proud of the young adults they had become, I wondered what was in store for me?

How would dinners be with just my husband? Would we really be able to travel more or would that be limited due to his demanding job? What would my day-to-day life look like?

I had started volunteering when my children, Lindsey and Daniel, were young, recognizing that if I was not going to go back to work, I would need more than being a mommy 24/7.  Over the years I volunteered with a number of organizations in the Jewish community including sitting on the board of Krieger Schechter Day School (KSDS). But I knew I needed more. Once Daniel left for college, I joined the Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation (JWGF). I loved my first year at JWGF.  It spoke to me in so many ways and was different from my other volunteer work.  

After graduating college, Lindsey started her new job in Baltimore. I was glad to have her close by again. Daniel was home for the summers but he was busy working. We had, it seemed, after some time, adjusted to our new “norms”. My volunteer work grew, I became more involved with JWGF and agreed to become the chair of the KSDS Board. 

By 2018, I had settled into a routine, keeping busy with my volunteer work when I saw something online about The Center For Human Rights looking for translators for attorneys interviewing children that had been placed in shelters in Texas. Within a few weeks Daniel was on his way to Texas.

Suffice it to say my empty nester life had hit its first snafu. Long story short, we travelled to Texas to post bond for David, an 18-year-old young man from Honduras, and brought him home to live with us. Daniel left for his last year of college. Sam (my husband) and I spoke very little Spanish and David knew no English, but we made it work with google translate. I enrolled David in the ESOL program at Owings Mills High School and with Daniel’s help we found an immigration attorney. 

Suddenly our quiet, two-person dinners took on a whole new level and were never boring!  After nine months, David went to live with his uncle in Virginia, my son graduated from college and remained in New York, and I found myself once again at home without our kids.

Our life quieted down and Sam and I even took a wonderful vacation. Sam accepted an offer from a healthcare consulting company and decided to leave his job as the president of a hospital. We thought we were settling into a new normal.

And then COVID hit. My husband had just started his new job but was now working from home. My daughter and her kitten came to stay with us while she applied to graduate school. Just like that, my few months of quiet had quickly ended.  I now had my husband and daughter, a dog and a cat with me 24/7. For a few months this past fall, my son Daniel moved back home too after being furloughed from his job. Yikes!

My empty nester life has been anything but quiet for the past eighteen months. Sam still spends most of his time working from home in the office on our main floor, either in zoom meetings or on the phone. Lindsey took over the basement and is halfway through a dual MBA/MA in Design Leadership from Hopkins and MICA. She is planning on moving back to her apartment this month.

Daniel got a new job and moved to Denver. David is living and working in Virginia. His asylum hearing got postponed until June of 2023.

As for me…. I lost my work space. I now have a desk upstairs in the same room as the ironing board. I continue to remain involved with JWGF and as of this summer am back on the Executive Committee as the Grants co-chair. In addition, last fall I agreed to co-chair the Hesed Committee at Chizuk Amuno. 

Between my full house and volunteer work I stay busy.  Not exactly how I envisioned my empty nester years to be but …


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