This weekend begins a new chapter in my life. Right now, my youngest is starting her first year in college. Many of my friends have asked if I’m sad to see her leave for school. I suppose they are worried that I’ll suffer from empty nest syndrome now that my children are grown up. But that’s not how I feel at all.
I never considered our home as a nest until recently. But now that I think about it, I imagine it’s much like an eagle’s nest getting bigger each year. Our nest is the foundation of our family, built from memories we share every day. Each moment is a new stick added to the mix. The many Christmas’, skinned knees, and barbecues weave an ever-growing roost we call home.
My daughter took flight and ventured out across three time zones to continue her education in premedical studies. (It’s a good thing she loves school and learning because she will be at it for a while.) The past few months, her emotions went from the relief of finishing high school to the angst of leaving home to the excitement of what lies ahead. I had those same emotions right along with her, and each one was another stick added to our nest.
I remember when I left for college many years ago. I was so eager to see the world, set my barrings on a new horizon, and learn as much as I could. After reading today’s fortune, I realized that I have a similar opportunity now. Our nest has grown big as the children matured and became self-sufficient—for the most part. We added a lot of sticks worrying about them getting to school on time, finishing their homework, or shuffling them off to after school activities—I could have built a second nest with that last one. Now, I can stretch my wings and direct more attention to myself and my husband.
It’s not uncommon for parents to feel sadness or loneliness when their children leave home. That huge nest can feel empty, but it’s not. It’s full of all the memories of our moments together as a family, forever woven in our hearts. I cherished every moment, each milestone I had with my kids from diapers to diplomas. I feel the same about the moments I have in the present. Each one is a new stick added to the nest.
I have been transitioning for this moment for a while. I’ve spent more time traveling, working on stories, and enjoyed a little me time—I can finally use the bathroom uninterrupted. The nest may have fewer people, but my life is jam-packed with opportunities. There’s a whole world of sticks out there, and I’m enjoying them a little each day.
I don’t know what life has in store for my children or me. It could be anything—adventure, success, heartache, but I will take the opportunity to live my life to the fullest while they are off doing the same. When they come home to visit or call on the phone, we can share stories as we did so often in the past.
Am I worried about an empty nest? Nope. It’s full of fun times around the dinner table, warm hugs on cold nights, and a whole lot of love that lasts forever. I can soar among the clouds just like my kids, and we all know that there is a safe perch on which to land if any of us need it. So, to all of those young adults leaving home and their apprehensive parents, spread your wings and take off. I know I will.