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June 2012

Navigating the sea of change in an empty nest

Empty%20nestWhen the oldest of my sons was preparing to leave for college, I spent the last night of our family vacation sobbing like I would never see him again. Even as I cried, I tried to analyze why I was behaving so irrationally, considering he was only going to Pennsylvania.

 “It must be all about our mortality,” I mused soulfully, assuming there is always a profound, often obscure meaning behind all human behavior. It couldn’t possibly be as simple as I was going to miss him.

 By the time the third son was leaving, it was a quick hug and kiss at the dorm room amid piles of unpacked stuff, because my husband and I wanted to hit the local diner for lunch.

 When the fourth and fifth sons decided college was not their thing, I figured the empty nest syndrome was a vague promise that would never be fulfilled in my lifetime, though there was a sliver of hope when son number six went off to NYC to study drama.

When the revolving door began spinning with their subsequent (temporary) returns home in well-timed succession, some staying longer than others, I was certain I would never know the “pain” of having the house to myself.

But I have since learned, as so many before me, that the empty nest syndrome is not so much a physical space phenomenon as it is an emotional one, and no matter how many big feet are still roaming through the house, it’s possible, or more to the point probable that, as a mother, you will, at some point, feel alone. It seems the empty nest is not your house as much as it is your heart.

The beautiful thing about the heart is how it grows to hold more love, more people, new experiences and creative energies. If we open our hearts to all things new, it will never be empty.


For moms, even slippers can be running shoes


It seems to me the adage, “You can’t fool mother nature,” was really a take-off on the original, “You Girlonrailroadtrackscan’t run away from your mother.”

I will never forget the first day I really tried. I don’t remember the circumstances that initiated my bolt out the front door, around the corner to my cousins’ house. They lived directly behind us, our yards touching in a corner across a few feet of fence.

As I ran like the devil was chasing me, I remember thinking, “She’ll never catch me. She doesn’t even know where I’m going.” Silly me.

I rounded the second corner, up their gravel driveway and concrete porch steps to pound on the front door. “Let me in! She’s after me!” I yelled, certain my cousins would know who “she” was.

Relief flowed over me as I heard the click of the front door latch and a voice saying, “I’ll let you in.”

But it took only a few seconds for the emphasis on the “I’ll” to sink in, and to realize the hand reaching out of the door to pull me in was my mother’s.

I don’t remember her words after that, though I am certain there were many. I just remember thinking “how??”

I began to realize that you should never underestimate a mom when it comes to doing what’s best for her child, and that includes vaulting over a split rail fence in slippers and an apron so your daughter doesn’t grow up believing she can get one over on you.

With the wisdom of age, and being a mom myself, I’ve realized it’s not so much a matter of running away from mom, but of mom always being present, and unconcerned about the cost, when a child has a need, even a need for correction.

Thanks, Mom.

 

Image at Pinterest, Alida Bigham, Black and While photos, found at 500px.com.