Our oldest daughter is beginning her senior year in college. This summer, she’s been working full time and taking classes both online and at her school. She’s a busy girl, and we don’t see her nearly as much as we did, even though she’s still living here. Our second daughter, who just graduated from high school, is also working part-time as well as volunteering at an assisted living center. Between that and a busier social life, she’s coming and going much more frequently, too. My husband and I find ourselves at home with just the two youngers, or sometimes even just with our son. After 21 years of having all the kids with us to some extent, it’s really kind of strange.
I was prepared to be very emotional about this. I am, as any of my friends or family will tell you, someone whose feelings lie very close to the surface. I cry at the airport when anyone is leaving, even if I know I’ll see them shortly. I can’t handle Hallmark commercials—or even worse, the Publix ads that play around the holidays (all of you in the south—you know what I’m talking about!). So I expected to be a blubbering mess when it came down to my kids leaving home.
But I’m really not. I was thinking about this the other day. My oldest daughter is likely going to be getting married next year after graduation, and Haley talks about moving to Italy when she’s finished the first two years of college. I adore my children, I love to spend time with them. They, with my husband, are tops among my favorite people in the world. So why am I not deep in depression?
I think it’s mostly this: I have been blessed by each phase of my children’s lives. I have enjoyed infancy, babyhood, the toddler years, childhood and adolescence. I don’t think I’ve missed anything. I’ve been in the trenches with them through the good times and the bad; we’ve made it through together.
And so this next step—this fully embracing the independence that actually began the day they were born—is exciting to me, too. I know that I’m not going to be so much a part of this next phase, but that’s okay. I can still appreciate it. I’m eagerly anticipating the new lives my children launch as they step out on their own. I’m curious to see what they take with them and what they choose to leave behind.
I hope that I’m still part of their lives, and I think I will be. I’m thrilled that as siblings, my children are close to one another, and it makes me happy to anticipate those relationships growing even as roles change. One of my goals as a parents has been to raise children who love and support their brothers and sisters, and it gives me joy to see that happening.
So yes, our nest is emptying. I still have a few little birds left to cherish and teach before it’s their turn, and maybe I’ll be tweeting a different tune in eight years when David’s finished high school.
But I hope not. I hope that I can send my kids out into the world full of confidence in their own wings and ready to take flight.
After all, that’s the whole point, isn’t it?