Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Thoughts from the Empty Nest (Part II)

Yesterday in Part I of this post, I talked about how very fast the years fly by when you're raising children--and the inescapable fact that if you've done your job right, they will suddenly be all grown up and moving out: going to college, getting jobs, getting married, starting families.  It's exactly what you dream and hope for them when they're little, and yet you dread it in a way, too.

Sometimes their new grown-up lives take them far away from the cozy nest you've lovingly built for them, stick by stick--making daily (or weekly, or even monthly) in-person interactions with them a thing of the past.  Phone calls are great, and FaceTime or Skype sessions are even better.  But it's not the same as having them in hugging range all the time...not even close.  [Sigh...]

And the years really do whiz by (even though while you're in the trenches it seems that some days are much too long and bedtime can't come fast enough!).  That Kenny Chesney song, "Don't Blink"--so true.  So very true.

HOWEVER, I want to tell you what an indescribable joy it is to watch the children you raised strike out on their own and make their way in the world, to watch them figure out how to do all the things their mom and dad used to take care of for them.  Heather, a fellow mom of mostly grown sons, put it perfectly in my combox yesterday:  My pride in them far outweighs my longing to gather all my chickees back into the same nest...I used to tell first time moms that they would be shocked by how intense their love would be for their baby but it's a feeling you can't explain until you experience it. Having grown children is the same... every time they repeat a tradition from childhood or call to ask for a recipe or eagerly share old photo albums with girlfriends... my heart just bursts!

What she said.

If you're currently surrounded by wee ones who won't let you out of their sight (even to go to the bathroom!), and you're already sort of dreading the day they'll fly away from you, thinking they won't need you anymore, trust me on this: your kids will always need you.  Our boys still call their dad often, for advice about finances and building things and whatnot, and they (or their girlfriends/wives) also call Mom for recipes.  They want to pick our brains about parenting ("Did you and Dad ever let us cry ourselves to sleep when we were babies?").  They still need us, and I think in a way they always will; but they're leading their own grown-up lives now (all but the baby, who still has a year of college to go), and they're handling everything beautifully.  We couldn't be prouder of them.

So.  For all you moms reading this whose nests are currently quite full and who worry about what it will be like when they're emptied out, I want you to know this: there are SO MANY WONDERFUL THINGS in store for you when your chicks are independent grown-ups, so many blessings to look forward to.  I can't stress that enough and I can't possibly list them all here.  But I thought I'd give you a few examples (from the perspective of a mom with all boys).  And I'm going to let the pictures do the talking.

You'll watch your boys fall in love, and see them happier than you ever knew they could be...
You'll see the pure elation on their faces on their wedding days, as they gaze at their beautiful wives (your new daughters!), and it will make you cry...
Then you'll dance Mother-Son Dances and cry some more (but they're happy tears)...
They might even get married in the same church where you and your husband exchanged your vows, 33 years earlier...
They'll start building their own nests--and when they move in, the first things they'll set out will make you realize that you must have done something right, because their priorities are in order...
They'll beg you to visit them, and when you arrive, you'll find sweet notes on the fridge...
Or flowers and treats set out to welcome you...
They'll call with the exciting news that you are going to be blessed with a grandchild.  Then you might see your boy with his hand caressing the belly of his pregnant wife, like this--and remember those happy tears?  They're flowing again...
Your boys will become fathers, and you'll become a grandparent--a joy that is impossible to describe, it's so wonderful.  There will be little people in your life again, and you will love them fiercely...
Your sons might follow in their dad's footsteps and go to his alma mater.  They might grow big and strong and taller than their dad, but they're always going to  be your babies, no matter what...
Their senses of humor will mature with the rest of them, and those 8-year-old-boy jokes (bathroom humor, anyone?) will be replaced by the kind of comments that will make you throw your head back and laugh...
But no matter how grown-up they get, there will always be a bit of little boy inside your men (thank goodness)...

And they'll always love their mommy, no matter how old they get...
Would I turn back the clock, so that I could have all of these precious souls I had the privilege to raise around me all the time?  Never.  Think of all the great things I would miss if I did!
 
There is a season for everything in life, and you know what?  I like where I am.  The nest might be empty, by my life is very full.  God is so very good, isn't He?
 
But before I go, a note to my boys: there's a house for sale just down the street--I mean, if it's favorite status you're after...(Just kidding...I think.)

20 comments:

  1. I just love this!! And the pictures are all wonderful. Brought tears to my eyes.

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    1. I think we moms are all a bunch of crybabies, aren't we? :)

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  2. Awwww... thanks for using my comment! Your pictures gave me chills and made me a little misty. Yesterday was my birthday and all three boys did something to make it special for me. They are truly a reward! *hugs* Heather
    P.S. I blog at www.tighteningthecorsetagain.blogspot.com if you want to see my handsome fellas!

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    1. I just embedded a link to your blog in this post--I should have thought to do that before. I made a quick stop there yesterday, but I think I'll head on over again. :)

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  3. Well, these posts made me cry just thinking about the future. It's going to be a bonus snuggling day over here. And C gets no say in the matter.

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    1. Bonus snuggling--always a good idea! :)

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  4. I love this, Laura - totally got me all weepy!

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    1. I think I'm making everyone cry today! This one struck a chord, I guess.

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  5. I love this too, Laura! And I love love LOVE that picture of you dancing with your son. :)

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    1. Those Mother-Son Dances, they'll get you every time! (We were dancing to the Backstreet Boys, "The Perfect Fan"--which is the perfect song!)

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  6. I love love love this post! It made me think of my parents and how they are feeling right now as we (the kids) begin marriages, leaving home. :-) It was so difficult leaving home, but I think it's harder on our parents.

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    1. It is hard for us parents. So bittersweet. It's exactly what we want for our kids, yet it's hard to let go!

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  7. I cried, literally and truly cried (a happy cry!) when I read this, and especially at the photo of your mother-son dance. That is my son and me exactly. Dance? Nope, didn't happen. I just stood in my 'little boy's' arms and cried. But it was a good cry, if you know what I mean (and you do). Joy at his happiness! Two years later the grandchildren started coming, and you're exactly right - we love these little ones FIERCELY.

    Beautiful, beautiful post.

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    1. That Mother-Son Dance is hard to do dry-eyed, isn't it? So sweet.

      And as for the grandkids--it's almost painful, isn't it, the way you feel about them? Such love!!

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  8. It's true! My oldest graduates college in a few weeks and is looking for a place to live near his new job. I miss him, and I will miss him when he is really out on his own, but I'm so excited for him and proud of what he has accomplished. And I relate to the "calls home for recipes" thing. He also calls from the grocery store to ask how much of something he should make because he's having friends over--and he's doing the cooking.
    My second child leaves for college in the fall--the same one her brother is about to graduate. I hope it's as wonderful for her as it was for him. And I'm thrilled to see all she has done already.
    As to the bathroom humor, no one's given up on that quite yet...

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    1. Ha ha--they really haven't totally given it up here yet, either. :)

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  9. Laura
    Yesterday's post was absolutely beautiful and couldn't wait for today's.
    Oh yes, it's all rather bittersweet. But I'm so proud of my oldest two, watching them fly, and falter, and pick themselves up and fly again. It makes my heart so proud of them. I used to say, it helps to ease my heartache that they are happy away at College. Now my thoughts have changed and actually its more about being so proud of watching them stretch and grow, because of adversities, seeing them tackle life.

    Currently I'm in the Big Smoke visiting my college kids for a fortnight and it's a whole new experience, just the baby and I hanging with my college kids, popping up on campus, going to Mass with them:) There are new experiences, new memories to create:)

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    1. Oh, Erin, that trip to visit the college kids sounds magical. You're right, when they grow up there are so many new experiences to enjoy together and so many new memories to make. It's all good, it really is.

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  10. Another beautiful tribute, Laura! The photo of you crying the happy tears got me weepy. :) My daughter lives about 25 minutes from me and I get to see her and the little ones nearly every weekend. Love them so much!!!

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    1. That's a blessing, having your grandchildren so close. But you obviously know that! Enjoy your little ones. :)

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