The empty nest

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The empty nest.

I discovered it as I was discarding the flower pots by the front door. Pots with shriveled plants that had been ignored too many mornings in the hot Florida sun. I was about to toss the entire brown mess out when I realized it was a nest.

Two black speckled eggs were nestled in the back. I wondered how long it had been abandoned.

I chuckled at this discovery, a metaphor for my life, things disheveled, neglected and passed over these past months as I readied myself for the upcoming changes. A daughter, my youngest child, headed for college in Texas. A son, just graduated from college, to be married in a few days. A mother, with Alzheimer’s, has just had a stroke, leaving her left side paralyzed. A category 3 hurricane was approaching our vicinity. All that was exposed had to be brought in.Then was the empty nest revealed. All I had been dreading was now uncovered in a neglected pot.

Nestled in the little bramble of branches were the promise of life, left alone, never brought to its potential.

My inclination to boo hoo my days through the empty hallways, empty rooms, an empty refrigerator is slowly shifting each day. Raising four children was fun and frenetic, full of loudness, laughter and laundry. On a bad day I may breakdown when I see a young mom pushing her kids in a full cart at Target or when I find Goodnight Moon tucked away on a dusty shelf

But this discovery has me rethinking the meaning of an empty nest.

These abandoned shells reflect life never realized

But my empty rooms should remind me of life realizing possibilities.

Not only for my children, but for myself.

It’s strange not to have my extension of myself be my children, or even my mother, who have been and continue to care for these past years.

Being sandwiched in the middle I lost myself, not because of their demands but because I thought that was the right thing to do.
But now as I crack the shell of self created isolation these past years I am rediscovering the joy of who I am. Separate, but whole. And that is OK.

So I will paint because it makes me happy. I will take walks with friends because it feels good to chat. I will take long walks alone along the beach  because it feels good to breathe salt air. I will sip coffee on the back porch and chat with my husband, my high school sweetheart, because he does know me better than I know myself. I will do laundry once a week instead of once a day.

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I will visit my mother, and enjoy being the child instead of mothering her.

I will cheer on my daughter instead of missing her.  For she is the one telling me, “Mom, I love it here.  I love finding out who I am.”

I will root for my son who is tackling biochem and physics and the MCAT and the other  one tackling a media career in New York.

And I will forever remember the joy of watching my son taken aback with tears as he watched his bride walk toward him, ready to begin his life with her as husband and wife.

For the empty nest should be a reminder of new lives, not the old one, and the joy that comes from watching new lives take off and soar.

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