The First Empty Nest

I’ve had the precious gift of being a momma for 16 years. Due to the spacing of our kids, and a variety of schooling methods, someone has been at home with me every year. When our third born was just entering kindergarten, I had a two-week old baby in tow. I was starting over as my older 3 were in the midst of elementary school. But now 6 more years have passed, and for the first time, ALL my children are in school.

 

The house is eerily quiet at 9:15 as the second shift of kids have left for school, and I’m cleaning up the breakfast dishes. I’ve experienced a wide range of emotions the past week. I readily admit that I’ve been looking forward to this day, to have a chunk of time each day without the demands of children is invigorating. What should I do first? Read a book, exercise, write, or attack the mountain of laundry? (Some things are more exciting than others) On Monday morning at 5:00 am, I planned out how I would use every hour of time the kids are in school. It felt like the night before Christmas.

 

But what I wasn’t prepared for, was the onslaught of emotions as I watched my kindergartner walk into his new school. Totally unashamed, Micah wrapped his arms around me in a hug before his older sister took him by the hand to walk him to class. I heard my voice crack as I shouted out one more “I love you! Have a great day!” My eyes filled with tears and my heart with emotion as I turned away from the school. My teenage daughter stood beside me with compassion in her eyes, “Mom, are you okay?” She put her arm around me in a comforting hug as we headed back home. “Wow, I just wasn’t expecting that,” I said, wiping away my tears.

 

Even though I’m excited about this new season of life, the closing of a chapter is bittersweet. In some ways, from 9:00 am - 3:45 pm seems like the first empty nest. It’s a transition from having little ones always by my side, to them being out of reach. It’s a time when I need to trust God is able to meet their needs even when I’m not present. Parenting is a series of letting go, a series of trusting God with the children that He has given to us. Will I trust Him to keep them safe while they’re at school? Will I trust Him to provide a friend at the lunch table?

 

Maybe you’re in a new season of parenting. Maybe you’ve just dropped off your first child at college. Or you’ve taken your last child to kindergarten. Maybe you’re surrounded by toddlers and babies, wondering whether you’ll survive the little years. Either way, God gives us each season as a gift. Each new chapter is an opportunity to trust Him for grace to hope and persevere. Be thankful for the chapter that you’re in. Bloom where you’re planted, and be eager for all that God has planned. Times of change aren’t seasons to dread, but times to look forward to with joyful anticipation.

 “The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;

my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.” Psalm 28:7