Empty Nester: Those two words strike fear in my heart. Almost as much as the words “please step on the scale”.
I don’t want anything to do with either one of those things, thank you very much.
Sure, when the boys were little and sucked every morsel of energy out of my very being, the idea of being an empty nester was glorious. Now that they are older, I am dreading the idea of the departure of the very people who have defined my every moment for over 18 years.
The term “empty nester” is such a strange one. I am sure it was born out of the picture perfect beauty of a momma bird building a nest for her eggs, protecting and nourishing the babies and eventually kicking them out of the nest to fly. I totally get the analogy except bird nests are super ugly. A chaotic mix of sticks, hair, fur and whatever else momma could throw together and nothing like the ones you can buy from Pottery Barn to decorate a bookshelf with.
This is the kicker. Not one momma bird stays in the empty nest sniffing the rubble for lingering scents of her babies after they have flown away. She doesn’t cry and mourn the emptiness and quiet because the momma bird flies away just like her babies do.
The emptying of the nest by both mom and baby birds is the true picture of life as a mom. We nurture and protect. Teach and discipline. We encourage them to fly. And then we, the women who have poured our lives into those kids, get to take the passions and dreams that belong only to us and leap out of the nest ourselves.
I am not learning this lesson easily. There has been lots of snotty crying and way too many hidden packages of double stuff Oreos being consumed to declare myself an empty nester survivor. I am working hard at figuring out what I am passionate about. What I dream about.
What makes me want to take a flying leap out of my nest.
I have exactly one year, nine months, and four days to figure it out. And when I do, watch out. This momma bird is going to soar.
Keri, a mom of two teenage boys and married for 22 years to her man, has lived a lot of life in her married years. Her family has moved from Texas to Florida back to Texas followed by a four year stint in Singapore only to move to Illinois for a whopping six months before moving to Duluth two years ago. All that moving means she is intimately acquainted with every paper clip she owns. She is a “mostly retired” speech therapist by trade but now spends her days recording a weekend show for Life 97.3, leading the women’s ministry at her church, going to countless sporting events, or curled up at home with her favorite child (her dog Lenny) eating the Reese’s peanut butter cups that she has been hiding from her family.