Scott Miles, 66, and his wife, Mary, 58, saw their youngest son Calahan, 19, off to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse last August.
With the departure of Calahan, who plays football at the college, the couple officially became empty nesters.
Empty nest syndrome is the general term used to describe the sadness and sometimes distressful feelings associated with children leaving home. Some parents may feel sadness, anxiety, grief, irritability and fear over their children moving out. However, as the parents of seven children and five grandchildren, with one on the way, Scott and Mary have little time for those feelings.
The Salem couple was married April 26, 1997, at St. Alphonsus Parish in New Munster. Mary stayed home to raise their children until the youngest entered first grade.
“I now help two of my sons who are starting their own business by doing paperwork for them. I also babysit a few days a week for my grandchildren, which I love,” said Mary.
Scott owns Miles Truck, Inc., which repairs heavy-duty trucks and sells them.
While becoming empty nesters has felt strange at times for Scott and Mary, they are still running to their fair share of band concerts, softball games, gymnastic meets and even horseback riding with their grandchildren.
“We are running around just like we did with our kids, but the difference is, we get to enjoy these activities without worrying about time frames, being a team mom or volunteering,” Mary said.
By far, the most difficult adjustment for Mary is cooking for two instead of nine. She enjoys baking and cooking, and when she often makes too much, she invites her adult children who live nearby to stop by and pick up meals.
Both Scott and Mary at first had a little trouble adapting to the quiet in the house, but they have gotten used to it.
“I have animals that I take in from a petting farm when they are ready to retire them. I have three ponies, seven goats, one sheep and 12 chickens,” Mary said. “I love the animals.”
Because Scott has no plans for retirement, his day-to-day activities remain similar to when their kids were home. Mary has a bit more free time and has picked up a new hobby.
“I have always wanted to get into scrapbooking and have saved buckets of pictures and school items. Finally, I have the time to scrapbook them,” she said. “I even finished two wedding books for my kids.”
When Scott isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with Mary or golfing with his friends. Mary is happy to be sitting in their quiet home, scrapbooking or spending time with the grandchildren.
“My house stays clean,” she added. “One more difficult aspect of being empty nesters is that Scott and I haven’t taken a lot of time together yet because he stays so busy at work. He doesn’t want to give up the business he started.”
Mary said their Catholic faith has not changed, other than they are less involved in the parish and parish school activities now that their children have grown.
“Their Catholic school was a big part of St. Alphonsus, and I volunteered almost every day,” she said. “I helped head up fish boils, pancake breakfasts, chili cook-offs, fall festivals and more. Everything we did with the church and school was to raise money for our kids’ education. It was like one big family helping out.”
Volunteering in the parish and school helped teach Mary and Scott’s children good work ethics to get what they needed.
“It was the best way to raise kids,” Mary said. “Since our school closed down, the church has really thinned out. We don’t hold most of those fundraisers any more. It hasn’t changed my faith at all, and I am happy and grateful my kids experienced all they did while the school was open and we saw many more people in church.”
Mary appreciated being able to stay home and raise her children, something that seems to be increasingly rare in today’s society, and she sees how it takes a toll on her own family.
“I feel my kids are so much more stressed than I was when I was raising my kids,” she said. “I got to stay home and raise them. My kids all work, as do their spouses. I take my grandkids a lot, and it gives me time to spend with them. My oldest had a kidney transplant when he was 10. He is now 38. A few years ago, he was diagnosed with cancer. He is in remission now, but we had a scare a few months ago when he found a very painful lump. The doctors had to open him up to see if it was cancer. That morning, I took his four kids to church to light candles and pray for their dad. The lump was not cancerous. We are so thankful.”