The Next Chapter: The Nest Is Never Really Empty

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This past fall, we took Ben to college and moved him into his dorm. The days leading up to this big event were filled with so many emotions and anticipation of the unknown.

Moving in was mostly so much fun. From the moment we were greeted by energetic, genuinely enthusiastic SLU students and staff as we drove into the parking garage, the tone was set. I can’t speak for the other members of my family for certain, but I can assure you that I was uplifted, excited and felt true joy.

It got better – everyone we met was kind, understanding and offered some kind of support. Yes there were tense moments sprinkled in. Emotions were high and arguments did occur. But as we had a big “family hug” prior to saying a temporary goodbye to Ben, our bond was reaffirmed and I was once again filled with happiness.

I am settled in at home. I can contentedly report that – while I miss Ben immensely and the house feels emptier without his presence – the empty nest is NOT the doomsday that so many people try to prepare you for.

Milestones like this force us to reflect and brings front and center precious moments that had long since become memories.

I find a steady flow of them running through my mind almost like a movie. Little clips of scenes that when I hold them for a moment feel so real, complete with the emotions that were part of them at the time. I wish I could dive back into some of these and do it all again.

There were the New Year’s Eve festivities we would prepare each year for both Mia and Ben when they were little. First we all had a fun dinner filled with kid favorites like pizza or chicken nuggets (sometimes filet for the parents!), plenty of snacks and homemade dessert like chocolate chip cookies or brownies. Then the kids went on a scavenger hunt around the house for candy and little toys that David and I had hidden. They collected these in a bag that they had each decorated during the day. This was followed by watching the early kids’ New Year’s countdown shows and a “campout” on air mattresses in the family room.

Dozens more memories just like this tug at my heart. It feels like this is abrupt – like the cover of a book is closing. But it’s not.

We’ve been edging forward ever since our babies were born – it’s a gradual process. We go through the days, sometimes observing little changes and feeling sentimental for a moment, but not feeling the larger effect until we look back over a period of years and see all the memories we’ve collected.

I don’t see it as a book ending. I see it as turning the page on one chapter and finding the start of a new one.

One that still has the essence of the previous chapter and sprinklings from many previous chapters, and also has yet-to-be discovered gems. Memories waiting to be made. Moments waiting to be treasured. I am blessed to have this next chapter and embracing it feels like holding a special gift just before opening it, knowing that what’s inside is a mystery but it’s going to be awesome.


Read Next: Ten Lessons I Learned In My Empty Nest



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