For the last several years, doves have built their nest in our rose trellis. My husband and I have watched with great interest the flurry of activity as they bring sticks and grass together to form a safe place to lay their eggs and raise their babies. The whole process has been fascinating and little did we know that doves have many different broods a season. The nests they build provide a cozy home for their eggs and young to develop and grow. Those fledglings are born helpless and stay close to their parents for a short time as they learn how to survive on their own. Vulnerable at first but eventually grown and ready to take the leap out of the nest, ready for adulthood leaving the nest empty.
This is where I am finding myself, again. Our son recently moved out on his own. When he left for college, he never really lived with us permanently. It was a weekend here or a semester break there and I was always sad when he headed back to school but it never felt that he was gone forever. Thankfully our daughter was still home but then it was her turn to leave for college as well. When both were out of the house, I admit I felt a bit lost. It was a weird in-between time; they were gone but not really and I was trying to figure out this new life. Both of our kids are independent people, for better or worse we focused on raising them to one day leave and be on their own. It was an adjustment, but then my husband and I really started to appreciate being just a couple again without being pulled in a hundred different directions and keeping track of the kids’ schedules. We could be spontaneous and just pick up and go as our schedules allowed. It reminded us why we got married in the first place; we really liked being with each other!
December 2016 our son graduated from college and then moved home. His nightmare, my dream. Our kids know they are always welcome home and it was a chance for him to figure out his next step into adulthood. After being independent and on his own, he felt like it was a step back but I loved the opportunity to spend time with him again and reconnect. I really enjoy his company and he brings such fun and life to our home.
When I held my son for the first time, I was overwhelmed. Partially because I was now responsible for this tiny human but mostly because I truly had no idea the capacity my heart had to love another human being. Not that I was the Grinch but my heart grew at least three times that day! He could be challenging, but also brought so much joy! When I was pregnant with our daughter I was concerned. How could I possibly love another child this much? Do I have enough love in me for two babies? All fears were cast aside once that sweet girl was born. The love in my heart grew exponentially! For me, being a parent helped to give me a better understanding of God’s love for us. Total unconditional and sacrificial love whether we deserve it or not! My days for many years were filled with keeping my kids fed and alive with some fun and life lessons thrown in as well. Preparing my fledglings to one day be on their own.
This time my son moving out feels different, more permanent. I am so happy for him, he is succeeding at his job and has worked hard to save money to set himself up for this next step. Part of me is a little sad, but all of me is proud. Even though he wasn’t home much due to his work schedule, it was nice to see him regularly and to spend time together. The house now feels empty. I know it won’t be for long because our daughter will be home soon for break but I also know it is temporary. My nest isn’t completely empty yet. Once in a while they still need me and it’s nice that they will both call for advice. Our relationships are moving to the next stage and I will always be their mom but now relating to each other as adults is wonderful.
The thought of our empty nest brings a lot of emotions and letting go can be hard, but this is what we worked towards. Raising our kids to be independent and productive members of society who are good, kind, loving people who can survive on their own. My husband and I will definitely not be having any more “broods” like our dove neighbors but are looking forward to re-feathering our nest and seeing what this new season will bring for us.