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And Just Like That, Our Nest Is Empty
And just like that, our nest is empty.
People always say it goes to fast, but it did not go very fast for me. It has been a long, messy, glorious journey.
I married at 19, had my first baby at 20, our 17-year-old, our youngest child just bought his first car, is renting a room in Colorado, and plans to stay there and finish school while we jet back and forth from Europe to the USA for work.
My “season” of primarily mothering and wife-ing (I know its not a word) has been in full effect for 30 years; I will be 50 this summer.
I did a little math to help me answer the questions I am now asking myself, like, “When did I get old?’ and “Why does my face look like that, and where did all the white hair come from?”.
It’s not a mystery, its just math.
Over the last 30 years, I have shopped for, cooked, and cleaned up approximately 7200 meals, not including breakfasts, snacks, lunches packed, or hosting every holiday, plus all the times I cooked dinner for over 35 humans. (that happened a lot, long story)
Over the last 30 years, I have done over 12,000 loads of laundry-I went through clean sheets, blankets, and towels as if I were running a small hotel, at least having six children felt like that. I also continued to do laundry for all my children until they moved out. It was not to spoil them; it was to save my sanity and my machines. It was either that or replacing my abused washer and dryer every two years and listening to the clinking of jean zippers, and loose change flip around in the dryer at 3 am, which is when most teenagers realize they have no clean clothes. So, I just kept doing it. No regrets.
I wouldn’t even know how to gauge the hours spent volunteering at the school or sitting in the bleachers under the Friday night lights or the entire weekends spent on a baseball field?
Then I think of the gallons of sunscreen we went through, 12 hour days on the boat, in the Colorado sun with my six albino children and their “off beige” father.
There were all the well check baby visits, the immunizations, the all-nighters at the ER, the broken bones from football, rugby, roller skates, and skateboards. There were high fevers and scary viruses. It’s all on record somewhere, but now looking back, it is more of a blur.
People keep asking me if I am okay, especially my friends that remember the day their nest became empty.
Honestly, I was doing great this week, cleaning out closets, excited to have more room in our tiny apartment in Spain. I finally have an office in the house that I can write from in peace. My dresses and coats have a place to live for the first time in years. I was crushing it the other day, rearranging, and spreading out, redecorating like a goddess.
And then I saw it, the only thing Noah left behind in his closet, his baby book.
I lost it.
I ugly cried for an hour or so, sitting on the tile of my son’s empty bedroom, looking at pictures of a sweet blonde-haired, blue-eyed baby, who only exists in photo albums now. That little boy grew up to be 6’2, with the soul and wisdom of a 60-year-old in a 17-year-old body.
I miss him.
But, Noah left well, he honored us when he lived with us and he left with our blessing.
We had a few that left our home angry, a few that left hurt, and one that went to return to college, and that was the last time we saw him alive.
We survived that. We can get through this.
So, even though I miss the everyday presence of my children, I know they are precisely where they are supposed to be, leading their own families, leading their own lives, and leading others.
I enjoy my grown kids, and if I met each of them for the first time today, I would want to get to know them. They are hilarious; they are powerful, they are all compassionate and kind, and they are still wild. I like them just the way they are; I wouldn’t change one thing.
And, I am okay. My nest is not completely empty; there is a giant Viking still occupying a great deal of space in my little Casa; my husband is fully alive and ready for this next season.
And so am I.
I wish I could say I never worry about my children, now that they are grown, but you would know I was lying. Of course, I still worry about late nights and icy roads, I worry about the girls leaving work when it is dark downtown, I hope they will be treated respectfully by men, and not mistreated by boys. I worry about the stress of my sons’ careers, life on the road is hard, no matter how young you are. I worry how close our grand-daughters will feel to us since we only see them a few times a year.
I don’t stay in the worry; I just say a prayer.
The grown children may not sleep under your roof anymore, but the parenting never stops.
I did the very best I could, I made a ton of mistakes, and I am still in the process of seeking and receiving forgiveness for my ignorance, and lack of wisdom in my mothering.
I have been someone’s wife or mother for 30 years, I have been “over” all the laundry, cooking and cleaning for many, many years. I could live another 50 years and never clean a toilet, wash a sheet, or cook a meal and be completely happy.
The Viking is more than capable of doing all these things, and he does. But, I think he deserves some extra nurturing of his own now.
You see, I really like him too, I would not change a thing about him, and now I have him, and he has me, all to ourselves.
We never made our children our gods; we did not worship them; we just raised them. They were not the center of our world; they were and are the most loved part of our world.
We fought to put our marriage above everything else, so we are not disconnected, and we are certainly not afraid to be alone together.
Not even a little bit.
Thank you for checking in, but I am OKAY!