Mothers-to-be describe an urge to “feather the nest” in preparation for their new arrival. But what about when grown birds fly from the nest? Is there a phrase for that?
Years ago, after our friends’ twins left for college, the wife said with a twinkle in her eye, “The empty nest is highly underrated.” The couple smiled at one another, hinting of rekindled romance. I frowned inwardly, unable to comprehend a house without our two girls. When other homes would be filled with children studying in the kitchen, families gathered for dinner, it would just be the two of us. As other parents tucked their kids into bed, perhaps I would long to read Goodnight Moon or Madeleine. While other moms drove their kids to soccer, choir, and youth group, I’d miss carpools and chauffeuring.
And now we’re here.
Both of our daughters are gone for the summer. One works as a camp nurse and lifeguard, and the other is flying to Amman, Jordan to study Arabic, bringing an early empty nest to Skyemoor Farm. I find myself staring at a new season. How do I transition? What’s next?
My mother taught me to embrace change. Every season she switched the décor in our home, welcoming not only holidays but each change in temperature and family lifestyle. Similarly, as my parents grew older, instead of longing for the past, they lived in the present and joyfully anticipated the future. After my dad passed, my mom continues to celebrate life, as busy as ever, and involved in more than she can keep up with. She creates through sewing, photo journalism, and art projects and still attends the soccer matches, concerts, and church events of her grandchildren.
I must confess, there are a few things I won’t miss: parent permission forms, packing lunches, racing down our farm road hoping to catch the school bus, scrambling to find lost items, sitting through orthodontist appointments, or watching a senior stress out about College Apps, SATS, ACTS, and College Essays, or that her Senior prom dress didn’t arrive in time.
Now it’s Will and me. Cooking for two. We know when we’re eating dinner, who’s fed the dog and who hasn’t, and when to turn out the lights. And like our friends, we shall reinvest in our marriage.
The things I will miss? Too many to comprehend or list in a 500-word article! And so, I busy myself with everything RE. Motivated to re-look at every room in the house and get rid of the unnecessary to reorganize the necessary. I love the rearranging, reinventing, repainting, and repurposing. It recharges me. A new season is on the horizon. Fall is coming. And it’s ok. Maybe it’s called Un-nesting: The urge to simplify the nest and to encourage the birds to fly home for a visit.
In her "emptier nest," Ann is at work writing “Out of the Water,” her second novel.
“Stars in the Grass,” recently nominated for a Christy Award, can be found where books are sold.
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