Empty nest is inevitable and enjoyable

This book is a reminder for all parents that some day their nest will empty. Like all Good parenting books, this book unites us with other parents and reminds us to be in the present momentI enjoyed this collection of essays “The Empty Nest” edited by Karen Stabiner because they reflect the stage of life I’m at, with my fourth and final “child” at home for what might be her last summer before starting graduate school in a few weeks.

As a young mother, the thought of an empty nest seemed far-off, improbable and something to be worried about later, tomorrow, after I made another meal, ran another load of laundry and fell into bed exhausted, surrounded by my little tribe of four.

My mother Mildred, the wise mother of nine children and 25 grandchildren, said, “Each day they will need you less.”

Mom was right. Each day is preparation for the day they will eventually leave your home. If they stay forever, that’s a problem of its own.

Celebrate the moment you’re in now with your child, wherever and whatever that is. Believe older mothers when they say, “This will pass quickly.”

Time seems to go by faster as I get older. Time passing makes clear what is really important.

Editor Karen Stabiner collected the 31 essays from outstanding writers, mostly white and upper class. Several fathers, a few single parents, parents of color and non-heterosexuals were thrown into the mix. The contributors were almost all highly educated, wealthy,  (boarding school types) successful, and well-published.

I wanted to hear from parents of lesser means, with bigger families and smaller careers who are more like me. The essays were all written by accomplished professionals. What about the full-time moms who made motherhood their lives? How did it feel to become obsolete? Why do women have to justify our existence with  a paid career?

I was grateful to be employed outside of the home by the time our four started trooping out the door. I eased the ache.

I still hate to cook alone. The silence and calm of the house feel spooky. I’ve re-learned how to work, think and love without constant interruption — which took some adjustment. Then someone comes home for an extended stay — summer vacation, spring break or occasionally, between jobs. And my life feels normal again.

I live in the yin-yang between old normal and new normal. Both are good.

No matter what, being a mother or father is THE most important thing we will do in our lives, with the longest-lasting legacy. It’s also the toughest.

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One Comment on “Empty nest is inevitable and enjoyable”

  1. Beautiful, poignant. Wonderful blog, Susan!

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