It’s Sunday night and for the first time in 28 years, I am wandering around my kitchen trying to figure out what to do tomorrow morning. I don’t need to wake up a child for school like I have done for the past two decades, every Monday morning.
I don’t have to check the fridge to think ahead about what I will make for breakfast tomorrow. I don’t need to pull out a lunch box and make sure it is clean and free of Friday’s sticky leftovers. I don’t need to go into a boy’s room and check on his homework or his heart.
I don’t need to go ask anyone about their schedule for the coming week so I can plan transportation or meals. I don’t need to load the dishwasher so my kitchen is not such a mess at 6:00 AM because I don’t have to get up at 6:00 AM and there are only two coffee cups in there anyway.
It was only yesterday that I held my firstborn. It was only yesterday he started kindergarten. It was only yesterday that his little brother was born. It was only yesterday that we listened to Adventures in Odyssey. It was only yesterday that I snuck a paper cup full of Goldfish and Cheez-Its onto the top bunk because he couldn’t sleep. It was only yesterday that our house was full of the pings and buzzes of Mario and Pokemon. It was only yesterday that we were at orthodontists and soccer practice and debate tournaments and orchestra concerts and parent/teacher conferences and graduations.
It was only yesterday, but yesterday now feels like a thousand years ago.
Now, one room is a guest room and the other is freshly vacuumed and way too clean and empty. His bed is made for the first time in years because he doesn’t sleep in this room anymore.
Time feels so vast and spacious. Our house feels so big.
It’s quiet. It’s calm. It’s an empty nest.
An empty nest makes for a heart full of nostalgia. An empty nest makes for a heart full of longing. An empty nest makes me suddenly value all the little details that once felt like drudgery.
Tomorrow morning, I will not drag myself out of bed at 6:00 AM and begin the gentle nudges and not so gentle nagging to get a boy out of bed. Tomorrow, I will pray for two boys who once filled this house with joy and life. Tomorrow I will think about what they are doing, how they are feeling, what they are eating and when they will be home again.
I treasure the days of Legos and Hot Wheels and video games and trading cards and action figures. But, I will treasure these days, too.
Maybe the goal isn’t to fill this empty nest, maybe the goal is to fit into this empty nest? Find my way. Lean into the space. Enjoy the quiet. Sleep a little later. Change into my PJ’s at 7:00 PM. Eat popcorn for dinner. Experience one day when there are absolutely no dirty clothes.
From the vantage point of this empty nest, I can see so clearly that the single greatest honor of my whole life has been to be Clayton and Connor’s mom. It’s not over, it’s just different. An empty nest isn’t an ending, it’s a beginning. My empty nest will not be a bottomless pit of loss and longing. My empty nest will be a launching pad for the next beautiful season of life.
Our lives are lived in seasons, aren’t they? You may not be an empty nester but the changing seasons of life still resonate with you.
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But, the point of seasons is not to look back and long and it’s not to look ahead and anticipate — it’s to enjoy where God has you right now. If the nest you’re nestled in isn’t as comfortable as you wish, don’t wish it away. You can look forward to what God has in store, but don’t miss seeing today.
Wherever you are right now in life, use it as a right-now-living launch pad. Live today. Enjoy today. Experience today. Engage today. Appreciate today. And then tomorrow, you can look back fondly on your yesterday.
This is our season to live and love and soar — here’s to wiggling our own roots and spreading wide our own wings…
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What is your favorite thing about the season you’re in right now? Share it with us in the comments below.