I have an empty nest. What does that mean? It means that my daughter is off at college, living, working and doing life. When we are blessed with these sweet bundles at birth, you begin thinking about and dreading that day when they head out on their own. Of course, this is the ultimate goal — for them to move out and become independent, productive members of society. Teaching them independence. Teaching them morals. Teaching them how to care for themselves. All the while you are raising them, you are preparing them for this moment.
Her senior year I cried often. Every single moment of that year reminded me that this time in my life was coming to the end of its chapter. A new chapter was approaching. Even a new book was looming on the horizon. Her book. The start of her life as an adult.
When she was born I was so in love. I had never known love like this until her. Ever. I had never felt these feelings before. I was scared, excited, but mostly in love. When I wasn’t with her, I thought about her all the time. I’d be at work and couldn’t wait to come home so I could see that sweet, precious face light up. To hold her in my arms. To feel her snuggle against me as I would rock her to sleep before bed. Nursing her. Caring for her. Making sure everything in her “world” was safe for her. My world revolved around her.
I wanted to cherish each and every single moment of her life. From the moment she was born, when she would be crying at night and I couldn’t console her, to her first laugh, her first smile, the first time she took a step, pulled herself up, rolled over. The list was endless of firsts and nexts. I cherish every, single moment of her life. I wanted to because I’d heard how fast it goes. It is true. It goes too fast. I remember people telling me “oh I bet you can’t wait until she walks/talks/goes to school” etc. I remember telling them I CAN wait. I want to enjoy every single, solitary moment of her.
I remember when she started her “terrible twos” at 18 months old. Always an overachiever! She didn’t come out of those “terrible twos” until she hit four years old. I remember being exhausted at being consistent with her. Oh, it would be so easy to just give in and let her have her way all the time. If I had done that, she would have been a spoiled, rotten brat. She was never spoiled or rotten — ever. She was very strong-willed. I’m glad for that. She doesn’t take any guff from anyone!
People always gave us compliments about how well behaved she would be while in their care. That made me happy. When she would get home, however, sometimes there would be tantrums and fits and crying. I think she would hold it all together with others, and then get home and let loose! I often tell parents this, if your child behaves in public and with others — then that’s a good thing. When they let loose at home, allow them that because this is where they feel safe to let it go. Obviously, they need to know that this behavior all the time is not appropriate, but being forced to be “good” all the time, when even as adults we have bad days and bad moments. When this would happen we would tell her she could go to her room and get it out, and when she was done she was welcome to come back out and join us. This gave her the freedom to let loose and get it out, and know that we would still be there for her and love her just the same once she was done.
She is at college now. Letting go is hard. At first I feared for her safety, her well being, etc. The Lord has helped me through that though. He loves her MORE than I do. I pray for her protection every day. I pray for Him to give her wisdom every day. I pray for her to have a good life, a successful life. I want her to have so much more than I ever had — joy, peace, lots of love.
Adjusting to this empty nest is not easy. I have good days. I have bad days. I miss her. There have been times when I’ve thought about adopting a baby, or being a foster parent, but I realized I can’t do that. Health reasons prevent me from moving forward with that. When I really asked myself was it that I wanted another child? No. I just wanted to go back and do it all again with her. Cherish each and every moment.
I’m starting a new chapter in my life. In life when I’m reading a really good book I always get sad when that book comes to an end. I’ve even cried when it was such a good book that I just wanted it to keep going, but life changes, life moves forward, and now I’m going into this new chapter that is completely unknown to me. She put in a card to me that she is looking forward to this new relationship where we go from a parent/child relationship to friends. I like that.