Dr. Suess wrote a book called The Best Nest where the daddy bird sang “I love my home. I love my nest. In all the world, my nest is best.”
Last fall the day that we never really believed would happen descended on his like an eagle swoops down on its prey. The Empty Nest was here. For over 27 years Cliff and I had been consumed with four kids worth of chaos and now it was quiet.
And we like it!
I remember being quite disgusted when a new empty-nest mom would confess this with a glint in her eye and joy in her voice. How could any woman who was truly a mom be happy about her own flesh and blood leaving her home? If she really loved her children she would be draping the house in black and doing death wails as her kids rode off into the sunset. Bless the children of a mom so selfish and uncaring. They would have been better off being raised by wolves! When my kids left I would be proud of the gaping hole in my chest where my beating heart once pounded.
Once the little birdies started leaving the nest it wasn’t long before a couple came back temporarily. One was employed in town and started out in her own house, but was constantly at ours. She moved back for 2 years before she caught a current for the excitement of the city life. We were just getting used to having one child at home again, and here flew in Miss Misty. Due to a birth defect mysteriously coming to light, she had to have her spine rebuilt last spring. We nursed her back to health as Cole came down with a mild case of senioritis.
In August, we lost both to halls of higher learning. They all landed at least 100 miles away if not farther. They were so ready that the door didn’t slam until they were half way to their destinations. We had such a wild year, that we were just ready for a rest from life in general, not necessarily from them. My biggest adjustment was cooking. Going from roasting 1/2 a beef for a meal to looking at Cliff and having the “are you very hungry?” “no, not really” “then let’s just fend for ourselves’ conversation was a huge jump. After cooking for a boy with the appetite of a T-Rex, when I would cook, I would whip up enough for a small country. The job of the laundry was like an April fresh breeze in the areas of volume and aroma. Evenings have had the option of if the weather is absolutely gorgeous, then we can go and enjoy ballgames. My social life is back on track as I don’t have to work to keep track of #75 in the wad of football players anymore. When there is a nip in the air we have the choice of just staying home by a roaring fire and not freezing our tail feathers off on bleachers, drinking lukewarm hot chocolate.
Do I miss them at all? Absolutely! There is something to be said for holding a child’s head as they are getting stitches in their eyebrow, attempting to fix prom hair gone wrong, and having your calendar completely booked to the point you don’t even remember what you did or where you are going next. All these experiences is what cements the fam. When they come in the door to light for a weekend, nothing thrills our hearts more. When they leave we realize our bestest friends ever are leaving once again and our hearts ache a little bit.
But, not for long! We are now the receiptants of classic phone calls. These I have picked from the buffet of the last couple of weeks.
“Dad, I just got out of football practice and I think I lost 10 pounds in a day! What do I do? The coach is not going to be happy.” ( “you did not lose 10 lbs. The scale is off.”)
“Mom, how do I cook this turkey? Do I have to really stick my hand in there and pull the stuff out?” (“Yes, you do, Robin. Turkeys are one of the easiest things you can make. You are Paula Deen!)
“Dad, my car just did something not good and I am stranded on West Street in Wichita. What should I do?” (“I have a friend with a car dealership I will call. I still owe him a steak from the last time he rescued you.”)
(Sobs) “Mom, I have something to tell you and I really don’t want to disappoint you.” (Immediately my imagination raced as what she had gotten into. Most had to do with knocking off convenience stores to support her crack baby we didn’t know she had as she ran off with a guy named Ferret that she met in a hooka lounge. Instead, her crime was merely being naive and all worked out with lessons well learned.)
In An Arrow Pointing Heavenward about the life of Christian artist Rich Mullins there is this great summation of families. “The home is the most powerful place on earth. It is the cradle of the soul. Our minds and personality, our love and our hate, our fears and our dreams are all molded in the home. The home is the workshop of God, where the process of character-making is silently, lovingly, imperceptibly carried on. The quest for identity will always lead us back to our families. They are the ones with whom we discover our potential, as well as our limitations. They are the ones through whom and with whom we learn how to live. We have families because we are weak creatures and God knows that we need them. Throughout our lives those people who knew us first are a part of our makeup even if they are difficult to live with. Jamming seven people into a car that seats five may not be comfortable, but it is family.”
Whether our nest is full or empty, we are blessed and we are family. I would hope our greatest gift to them would be a strong faith so they can fly where ever God has in mind for them to soar.
This weekend is the McPherson College Spring Football game, where I fully intend to contract bleacher butt as I cheer for the kid who refuses to wear shocking pink socks so his mama can keep track of her little buzzard.
Photo credit http://www.furrytalk.com/tag/feeding/