It's hard for parents to imagine living apart from their kids when they're young, but there will come a time your beloved child will leave home to attend college or start a life in a different place.
It's a huge step towards adulthood, but for some moms and dads, being physically separated from their grown-up children can be very difficult and will take some getting used to.
This is exactly why Vicky and Jeff Piper's friends made sure to text, call, email and visit after they dropped off their youngest child, Cameron, at Saginaw Valley State University a week ago.
It's the first time in more than 20 years that the Ohio couple's home is child-free, and it wasn't easy at first.
Vicky, 48, admitted to crying after her son left, but she was comforted by Jeff, 50, who explained that benefits of being empty nesters, including having a lot of extra time to focus on their relationship and travel.
"When we dropped our son off, everyone was asking if we are OK, as if we had just been to a funeral. But we’re good, we really are,” Vicky told Fox News. “We feel confident in who [our kids] are and we know they will make good choices."
“We just have a different perspective on what that means,” she said, while talking about the different ways people perceive the term "empty nesters."
After having a chat about their new-found freedom, the Pipers decided to have a hilarious "millenial-inspired" photoshoot to announce the change in their family dynamic.
“We thought it was so funny. We were just cracking up,” Vicky, who works as a realtor, told People in another interview. “The two of us we thought we’d find it incredibly funny, but nobody else would.”
Jeff suggested they use an abandoned bird's nest as a prop, and Vicky scribbled "Empty Nest August 2018" on the same mini chalkboard they used for Cameron's graduation. They posted the photos, which where taken by a friend with an iPhone, on Facebook.
The snaps, which in some ways pokes fun at the social media trend of engagement and gender reveal portraits, went viral immediately. Within hours, the post gained 200,000 likes and has been shared more than 46,000 times.
"20 years ago we didn’t have gender 💝💙reveal parties, portraits in beautiful fields with baby shoes to announce a pregnancy," Vicky wrote in the caption. "Nor did we have baby photos on a blanket with a circle ⭕️ around a number showing how old they were. We drove 🚗our babies to sears or Olan Mills to get their photo📸😂😂!!!!!" She added, "So in honor of our next chapter ...here you go 😂🤣😛😜"
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would get so big,” Vicky told Fox News. "It’s crossed generational lines, to see parents doing a very millennial, trendy thing." She continued, "Empty nest has a bad rap, so we put a twist on it. We have celebrated so many milestones in our kids’ lives, now we can celebrate one in ours."
Cameron and his sister, Caitlyn, eventually saw the pictures, and they too thought the idea was funny.
"They both said, ‘You guys are having way too much fun without us!''' explained the mom-of-two. "As a family, we have a lot of fun, but they thought perhaps we would just be sitting around and doing nothing!"
At the end of the day, both Vicky and Jeff realize that although having your children move out can be bittersweet, they're proud of how well they've raised them and are confident they'll be fine.
"We’ve raised our kids and now they’re truly spreading their wings to fly — and we made mistakes along the way — but, ultimately, when the kids had their ups and downs they were in the nest, and we helped them through it,” Vicky told People. “But now when they leave you just have to sit back like, ‘You know what? We’ve done well.'"
So many parents were able to relate to Jeff and Vicky and they made it known in the comments. Some wished they had "thought of this [the photoshoot]" when they emptied the nest, and others tagged their photographers so they could recreate similar photos when their children leave home.
They've certainly started something new, so we won't be surprised to see this trend takeover as more parents become empty nesters.
Are you an empty nester? Let us know in the comments!