Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Empty Nest

    I always dreaded the day when the last child, the baby, would "leave" home. It was an event that was beyond human comprehension in those long ago days when I was pregnant with my fourth and chasing three others around the mulberry bush. Much much later when I would lie in bed sleepless reliving my conversations with my then recalcitrant teenage children, I found myself longing for the day when life would not be so complicated, when there would be no raised voices, no sibling squabbles to mediate, no screaming about the lack of hot water for a shower as my children got ready for school.  Well, the much anticipated day has finally arrived. As of 5:00 p.m. today, the eighth day of July in the year 2010, the family nest will be....officially empty.
   I am not grieving and I am not rejoicing. I am simply reflecting. I am looking at a clean den door that used to be plastered with the smudged fingerprints of children of all sizes. Just earlier this morning I had a flashback as I recalled the color-coded and highly detailed dry-erase calendar board covered with sticky notes that used to take up half my refrigerator door. I had a love-hate relationship with that calendar. In those pre-cell phone days I lived in constant fear that I would forget something important or even worse, forget and leave one of my children at an appointment, a practice, or a game. Since they all played sports, my husband and I were forced continually to divide and conquer. It was the way we survived. I even chuckled when I realized that moms on the go have become a marketer's dream. Pottery Barn has a complete organization system to hang on the wall instead of the refrigerator, and there is now something called a "Mom Agenda"  to make one's life easier. I guess that's progress.
    My house is quiet this morning. I have been praying and talking to my Heavenly Father about the path that I have traversed these past thirty-two years that offspring have lived in my home. I have often stumbled, fallen prey to insecurity and for a time, was captive to a desperate need to control what I could not understand, namely my children. It took me what seems like an eternity to finally learn the graceful art of surrender.  Not to my children and their endless demands but to the Lord. I credit Him with getting me through each and every day then and now. If I had it to do all over again, I would raise my voice less and listen more. I would try to keep from majoring on the minors and not worry at all about whether the beds were made, the clothes were clean, and the laundry was folded. And forget the iron. Who cares. I would definitely not schedule so many activities -- even those that looked important or beneficial or were educational or spiritual in nature. I would take more walks and read more books...not by myself but with them. I would laugh more and probably cry more. It is the irony of life that we seldom appreciate what we have in the moment because we are usually consumed by what comes next. So today, I think I will walk around my house. I will wander upstairs to my son's room and take a look at the mess that is all over his bed and his floor and his desk. I might pick a few things up, but then again I might not. I will stand there in the hallway and think about the way I sang Tender Shepherd each night when I put them all to bed, sometimes until I was hoarse. I will look over the pictures that fill the hallway, and I will grin at the way that one of the boys' ears stuck out under his baseball hat and remember how cute my daughter looked in her yellow tutu. So many days, so many years, so many memories.
    Despite what you may think I am actually excited and hopeful about this next stage of life for me and for them. But right now I am signing off to savor the cereal bowl in the sink, the crumbs on the counter, and the big shoes in the hallway where the last child at home left them when he took them off last night.


  1. Beautiful post. While I am 15 years or so from an empty nest, I do look forward to that day. I pray I will still have the energy to do all of the things my husband and I dream of doing. I pray that I will enjoy my daughters for who they are and enjoy remembering who they have been. I pray that, like you, I will be able to not laugh or cry but simply reflect on the passing of one stage of motherhood into another. Because you are done with the heavy lifting. The seeds are planted. The droughts and floods have been survived. You can now simply enjoy the harvest of who your children are.

  2. Beautifully written! Just so you know, when Bettye asks why Addison's clothes aren't ironed I'm going to tell her Kathy said it was okay ;)

  3. Kathy--what a blessing it is for me to read your blogs. Your words capture what is in my heart and soul. Thank you.

  4. Gorgeous! Made me want to cry! I am the baby sister, one year away from facing the same scenario. I too, have mixed feelings, as I have never been married to my wonderful husband "without children"! I am looking forward to the "next phase" with excitement, anticipation and some sadness. I have always "appeared" to be very independent, yet I find that in many ways, I am dependent on my husband, my sisters and my children to "tell me what to do"! I guess it is time for me to also allow the LORD to take me down a new path.
    Remember sweet sister, just as I have for 51 years.....I'm watching you! :)

  5. I have been sitting here carefully reading every post and loving the photos. Since I started at the top- I read this one last and I am almost undone. Thank you for blogging. For years, I've longed for more time with you and now, my prayers are answered. And then my moist eyes turned to laughter when I read Julie's comment about waiting to be "told what to do". Love you so much. I'll be quoting you today..."we seldom appreciate what we have in the moment because we are usually consumed by what comes next." Rich and meaningul words.


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