Empty Nests

Member Group : From the Kitchen Table

I sent my youngest child to college this week. We hugged good-bye in the parking lot of his dorm, and I watched him walk up to the door. I felt like I was watching him as a six-year-old walking into the school on the first day of first grade. The combination of pride and sadness was almost overwhelming.

His departure means that for the first time in 30 years no children are living in my house. My nest was empty, and the silence seemed to go on forever.

Then my older children began to call. They knew I would be feeling down, and they each took the time to chat.

As I spoke with each of them, I realized that my nest wasn’t empty at all. It had just grown.

It is now geographically bigger, since it reaches to each state where one of my children lives. I am still their mom, and I still share their lives. I just do it now through the phone and the Internet. I visit each of them in their homes, and enjoy seeing them as adults.

It is bigger in interests. As each child has become an adult and chosen both career and avocation, I have learned with them. My life and interests have broadened so I can better share their lives, and that experience has been wonderful.

It is also now bigger in population. One of my sons is married to a young woman who has become like a second daughter to me and a second sister to my children. They are about to present our family with the first member of its next generation. Several of my other children are seriously dating lovely young people who now happily attend family events.

It has more branches. I see my children connecting to each other as adults, building their own relationships of caring and support.

I am not unique in this. In fact, I am pretty much average.

It’s a cycle that families have followed since the beginning of time. The ties that bind families together aren’t limited by a place – they can span any distance. They are not limited by time – they reach across years and span generations. They are not limited by standards – no one has to be "good enough" to be a member of their own family..

We mostly take families for granted. We shouldn’t.

Over the centuries, governments have come and gone. But the families that lived inside those governments have remained.

Maybe that’s because government is an institution created by man, and family is an institution created by God.

The ties that bind families together are exactly like the ties that connect us to the One Who created families. They reach beyond distance and time, allowing for growth and change. They embrace every single one of us with the knowledge that whatever challenges we face, we are never alone.

I spent the summer dreading this moment. Now that it is here, I realize that my nest isn’t empty at all. It may not be located at just my address any more, but the love and joy that existed inside that nest are all still there, and will continue to be there in the years ahead.

Instead of an empty nest, I have one that is, and shall always be, full.