When my kids started leaving the nest, I asked an older mother with grown kids, “What does the mother bird do when her babies leave the nest?” (I was on retreat and had been watching a bird nest outside my window with two very fat (almost grown) baby birds chirping loudly for food, similar to demanding teenagers. Their mother was working hard flying back and forth trying to feed them.)
The older mother smiled happily at my question and said gleefully, “She’s free!”
“Free?” I say. “Free to do what?”
She replies, “Free to do whatever she wants to do.”
“Wow,” I thought. “What would I do with such freedom?”…….
That was about three years ago when my first born was in college and soon to return from volunteering in Tanzania. That was a hard letting go then too, but he returned safely with lots of amazing stories and photos. He expanded my world and made me proud.
Now, three years later he’s 24 and just moved out into his own apartment to start his own adult life with a job and a car he bought himself. And, the youngest of our two kids will soon fly far away to another state to go to college next month. My husband is recently retired and is gone a lot volunteering or traveling abroad to help build homes or libraries.
I have much of which to be proud and grateful. But these changes have left me feeling alone, empty and a bit lost. I didn’t think the “empty nest syndrome” would happen to me! After all, I have a career! However, funds were recently cut for the parent education classes I have taught for the past 14 years. The gift is I am now free to totally pursue a private practice as a parent coach, something I’ve always wanted to do. It can feel a bit lonely and overwhelming at times to venture out into new territory, but exciting too. Who knows, I may write a book out of all these rich experiences of motherhood, marriage, and menopause…..
“Fear and excitement are two sides of the same coin”, I teach parents and kids transitioning from elementary school to middle school, and from childhood to adolescence. So many transitions in life, each with it’s own lessons to learn.
I “should” be cleaning out my son’s old bedroom so I can finally have a much needed home office. This is the same room I once decorated with rainbow curtains before he was born. It’s been a week since he moved out and I still can’t seem to bring myself to change anything in his room. So many memories of childhood and adolescence in that room….. It feels like someone has died, and no one has. He’s just not living there anymore. He has his own “nest” now with a roommate across town. I should be glad he’s in the same town and can come visit from time to time. It doesn’t help. I still cry now and then. I have to admit, this is a big change after 24 years of motherhood. It’s about loss, change, letting go again, and moving on. I’m discovering it’s not an easy process. Maybe it’s a lot like birth: painful, one step (or push) forward, one back, one step forward, one back……until finally the baby is born and begins a new life separate from the mother’s womb. So from day one, we are leaving our mothers, more and more each day, until one day we fly away to start our own life and our own family and the cycle repeats.
Writing helps me through these transitions of life.
In our hallway with all the photos of our kids at different ages, there is a drawing of a beautiful mother holding her baby.
The caption reads~
“Hours fly … Flowers die …
New Days, New Ways, Pass By …