I’m guilty of using the term ‘empty nest’ in great abundance this year, especially these last few months facing that period in my life when my baby girl tests out her wings as she takes flight out in college terrain. See?! Again, I over-compensated as many mid-life clichés as my peers have.
But that is exactly how it feels – up to a point.
In reality, if you think about it, a nest is a small warm home made of some twigs, twine, leaves, feathers, or stolen bits from other nests or humans, but mostly out of love, joy, sweat, hard work, hope and sometimes pain. Check, check, check, check, check and check. We have all the above under this roof.
Well, maybe now I have more personal space for a little while, but in fact it’s quite the opposite of empty. I see it filling up.
I’m filled up to overflowing in love, because I realize just how much my own child has become a fascinating, productive, reasoning, brave and smart individual to take on college and ROTC. I couldn’t be more proud! There’s more of her to love – and respect.
Joy increased, because I can see that she’s having the best time of her life. She’s making her own choices, growing and exploring, meeting new people – doing the things she had dreamed about for many years! I witnessed my daughter become the Valedictorian of her class of other (equally!) very smart students, and the Father provided her with scholarships. She was abundantly blessed! (I was proud of all those kids in her class as well; they were an inspiration!)
Hard work never ended, because it wasn’t just vocation that I was plowing through, but giving her my 100% all the time, constantly praying, reading with her, teaching her, watching out for her mind, body, spirit, loving her, and sacrificing my own dreams or ideals (JUST FOR A LITTLE WHILE) to keep her on the right path. It’s paid off – I see the fruit of my dedication, and I’m still here for her. I’m keeping the bedroom door to her ‘Beatle-mania’ cave OPEN!
Sweat poured, because I worked my butt off doing things I thought (when at her age) I’d never see myself doing, but I did them with determination to see my baby girl become the bright star she is today. It was worth every drop. Though I still steadily pray for her, now I can wipe the brow and relax a little, and see where else life leads me.
Hope swells in my soul, because we often received provisions from the Father. I dedicated my life and my parenting to Him, who never failed to help provide and guide me in my most important work – Parenting. Even during these last three very tough years of unemployment, and even though we’re scratched and a little wind -blown, we are both standing proud, healthy, and stronger in faith.
Thankfully the pain decreased from occasional emotional melt downs that happen between mother and daughter, or one of us was ill, unemployed, broken hearts, saying things we regretted, or sacrificed plans or trips. It still always somehow worked out.
But now the pain that remains is from the deafening quiet of the house without her laughter, her sunny smile, praying or reading the Word together, our pinky-link promises, mountains of popcorn, Motown, Marley or Mozart playing most nights, reading together at the bookstore with lattes. And I will especially miss tucking her in.
School starts very soon in my town, and I’m sure I will miss attending some of those special parent nights and concerts, the many bake sales to volunteer in, her class trips to prepare for or to help chaperone. I know I will yearn for my daughter’s hugs in the morning when I see other kids with backpacks heading to school. Packets of oatmeal and Raisin Bran won’t get eaten as quickly. We won’t be sharing her delicious sundaes she made us at her part-time job and clicking spoons to cheer before we eat. My cakes and cookies will be safe from a large ‘critter’ prowling about and taking late-night bites out of everything I bake. Nor will we be dueling with curling irons for the shower and bathroom mirror. But I still don’t consider my life empty, just a little more roomy.
The emotions remain, have even grown some, while waiting for her visits. Meanwhile, I have a lot to do to keep that nest warm. I have a growing ‘to do’ list of my own to work on. It will be exciting to see what God does with my life now that I have time to serve Him in another kind of mission. I’m not ready for a ‘bucket list’ though – don’t rush things!
I will need my sleep and energy, so pass the melatonin, Marley music and the Crunch Berries this way, please!