Welcome to the Empty Nest

Written by Cathy

We here at Fourtuitous are all about transitions and this week my sister-in-law’s situation got me thinking. This Sunday Paula and her wonderful husband took their youngest to college. The family had been joking for months that Colin, the son, would be fine, but Paula might not survive. It was hard, even though they had done the same with the older two siblings. When I called Paula , days after the drop-off, she couldn’t get through the call without tears. How did she do? She cried most of the night. We’re a bunch of softies, aren’t we? I think we mourn for the youth, the innocence, even, that our kids are leaving behind, but I think we also cry for our own fleeting youth. We treasure the rhythm of our lives that was dictated by our children’s activities. The picking up and dropping off. The practices, games, concerts, dances, meetings, ad infinitum. Oh, but it is not infinite. There is an end to the hectic activity, and then we are left without the drumbeat, the tempo. Welcome to the empty nest.

When my daughter, Emily, was planning her wedding we enjoyed the whole process. Every detail was an opportunity to brainstorm and be creative. But one special evening remains clear and poignant in my mind’s eye. She and her husband-to-be, her brother, and his girlfriend were gathered around the kitchen table, debating the wedding and reception music, a topic each had strong feelings about. I had gone upstairs, and as I sat at the edge of the bed I could hear their cajoling voices and then bursts of pure glee. Teasing laughter and then raucous good humor tripped up the stairway. My thoughts were grateful-that these four were enjoying each other’s company so freely, and melancholy- that this moment might never be repeated. Oh, yes, there are holiday gatherings, even just everyday get-togethers (though not as frequent as I would wish). But this moment, under my roof, this special, delightful moment, would not be repeated. That is the essence of the empty nest to me.

So I sympathize with Paula. We do have so much to be grateful for and good times to look forward to, but change is relentless and time marches on. Today Emily and her husband attended the parent meeting for kindergarten. Her first born is taking his first steps towards independence, and she is taking her first steps towards that empty nest.

8 comments for “Welcome to the Empty Nest

  1. August 21, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    This hit close to home, just this week we had the good fortune to have all 3 of our children in the house. Within literally minutes of them arriving the laughter begins. We will be in another room and hear the familiar sounds and it feels so comforting.

  2. Cathy
    August 21, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    That’s exactly what I was trying to evoke-how we love that time when we can be a part of each other once again. Lucky you! Thanks for sharing.

  3. hazardyetforward
    August 22, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    I only have one son, who’s not quite four months, but the fear of the empty nest keeps me up at night. Love is an amazing –and devastating — thing.

    • August 23, 2012 at 12:31 am

      Love is amazing and devastating, for sure. Just when I think I have myself together, a wave of raw emotion hits me and I am useless for a moment. As Noah walked out the door today and on to kindergarten, my chest tightened, but he was so happy. Part of me wanted to cling to the baby he was, but more of me was so proud of the big boy he is becoming. That’s love, I guess.

      • hazardyetforward
        August 23, 2012 at 6:37 am

        Well said. :-). Before you know it, he’ll be off to college, and you’ll remember today.

        • August 23, 2012 at 8:19 am

          Ahhhhh! One step at a time 🙂

  4. Cathy
    August 23, 2012 at 8:42 am

    Yet if we do a good job parenting the children do feel confident enough to take those steps. And will occasionally find their way back? We can only hope!

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