Four cups of coffee so far today and I could still crawl back in bed for a long summer nap…..but alas….I can never sleep during the day (Unless near death from the latest plague I picked up from the grands-AKA walking petri dishes….. or the shopping cart at the grocery store….). So, today we are going to chat about the empty nest….because that empty nest is the reason for this fatigue today…or maybe it’s the food choices made while traveling ….but who doesn’t need a candy bar or two or three on a road trip???? We moved our son back into college this weekend…year three.
Empty Nest is that season of life where all the birdies are flown off to college/life and you are left with empty rooms, quiet spaces and a much smaller grocery bill. You know. that season you begged for as they were kiddos who couldn’t make it to the bathroom when they had a stomach bug, or the days they were screaming for no reason other than to hear the sound of their voice? Maybe it was the day you begged for graduation to come quickly so you could take a bath in peace again….no matter the outcome…we have all been there done that on wishing time away during those super hard days of parenting. And then it comes. That day.
I have to say that the first year was probably the easiest for this nest. You get so caught up in their excitement over the entire process, you honestly don’t realize what’s barreling down the tracks at warp speed. Every box, tote, shopping list is another adventure…a new experience to share. The day comes to load the cars and off you go. (In our case, the first year was a college 23 hours away…so most of it was loaded into boxes for Fed Ex or purchased upon arrival.) You arrive and it’s still honestly ok. Your chick is kinda starting to freak out over the whole…wait a minute…this is happening and looks to you for those moments of assurance and confidence only the owner of the nest can provide at that time. Life is still pretty rosy in the nest. Unpack, set up, attend various parent events for first year students and then off to the house you go while the student begins year one. Still ok….because for the masses, most of the kiddos are less than two to three hours away…easy to visit on weekends and such. It’s like they are at camp. (A very expensive camp!) We had that version with kiddo one, but kiddo two was off to far away lands…..
And this is where my nest begins……prior to our last kiddo loading up boxes to begin their adventure outside of our nest, we had already experienced two summers of this kiddo being gone. Far, far away…..he had played with BUTI in western MA and it meant sending him off on a plane for six weeks, with maybe one visit by us all summer. Freshman year off to Boston University this kiddo went. Home for the holidays was it….and maybe one parent visit up to Boston during the semester. Hard. For the sophomore year, a transfer to Nashville to Belmont was in order. Boston, the city, was amazing. It treated my kiddo well and in return my kiddo fell in love with all it offers. A transfer was still the right thing in this season for him. So, we go from a plane ride away to a nine hour drive away…..I was giddy thinking how much better this would be for this Momma Bird. Fail. It’s still hard. And today, we start year three of the empty nest…..with our kiddo being gone all summer playing in the Aspen Music Festival, we honestly had about 48 hours with him in the past nine weeks…and then it was goodbye again. I dislike goodbyes.
I’ve heard people chat about how much they love this phase of their life. I just feel unemployed. My job was raising my kiddos….and that job, for the most part, is now over. I think about what is truly missing in our nest now…and it’s those day to day interactions. Hearing about this or that event….being a connected part to their world. I am so thankful for Facebook, Face time and texting. The world does seem a tad bit smaller than I am sure it did to parents twenty years ago….but it’s still an empty nest. The bedrooms are empty. The chair is vacant at dinner. Your heart feels bigger and fuller for all that you see them accomplishing, but it also feels a tad bit empty over that piece not being there to say good-night to in person. Empty nest-it’s for the birds…….
Don’t misunderstand me….I am beyond thrilled at this journey my kiddos are on in life. I am so thankful that no dream was too big to go after….and that my last kiddo was so full of confidence and adventure that no distance was too far in order to make his dreams come true. I cheer that part of the empty nest. I just wish the other part didn’t go by so quickly. In the blink of an eye…it was over.
So, today, I sit here in full understanding of being told to “number their days” as they are few. Then they are off to tackle the world in their own incredible individual way. It’s just quiet. I miss Spongebob blaring from the TV. I miss the unmade bed. I miss cooking for my baby birds. I miss all of it. Being their Mom was truly the greatest gift God ever gave to me…and that was my sole job for over twenty years…..and that job is completed. Contract fulfilled. Year three has started and before I blink again, it will be time to pack up this last kiddo and make the move to graduate school…in a town far, far away again.
Raising kiddos is hard. There are days you dream of the nest being empty and all the freedom you will have. The empty nest comes…..and you realize that those moments of insanity were some of the most joyous days of your life. The days of what matters…..life…the stuff that makes up life and the memories you store inside your heart.
So, embrace that third cup of spilled milk on the new carpet…..cherish those fights between siblings that even the UN could not mediate….breathe in…breathe out….and know that the days are numbered and the last one comes before you are ready….and then it’s done.
To my Megzie and my own Harry Potter….you are loved to the moon and back and back again…..and I am so proud of you having such strong wings!
My Harry Potter…