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Empty Nesters

The laundry’s caught up.  The fridge seems bare.  There’s an unusual hush around the house. It all seems a little bit odd, disorienting, and exciting at the same time. Yes, I said exciting… It may seem callous (or even sacrilegious) in today’s society to suggest that excitement should fill some of the newly-vacated space of an empty nest, but deep down it’s present in every parent’s heart, and we’re far from the exception. The girls are 15 months (and one school year) apart, so each step along their lives has been akin to a one-two punch.  Just as we’ve wrapped our heads around one hitting a certain milestone, the next thing we know the other has passed it, too. Yet, our concerted resolve along the way has been to embrace each age, each year, each milestone, neither wishing the years away nor attempting to stop the clock from clicking ever forward.  We’ve always embraced each step, each age, and each moment in their lives with enthusiasm and gratitude. Such was the case as we conducted back-to-back college drop off’s this year, and nary a tear was shed. As we packed up supplies and clothes and pillows and shoes and toiletries and wherever else it seemed we could fit into every last nook and corner of the SUV, we reflected on how we’ve spent the last 18 (plus 1) years instilling all the wisdom, values, lessons, and confidence we could muster into these two young ladies, hoping and praying that we did a good enough job to ensure their happiness, safety and good decision making as they begin this pivotal next chapter in their lives. And what exciting chapters they are…for all of us!   The “core four,” as we once coined ourselves along the way, are now nicely spread out across the southern US, each of us individually and collectively trying to sort out the current and future state of affairs in each of our lives. How might we fill the obvious void?  What doors might open now that others have shut?  What yin will come with the yang? Exciting times, indeed, filled with the certainty of new experiences, new friendships, and new responsibilities.  Life blossoms and unfolds, and we have the blessing of togetherness in our hearts –  if not in our house – to share and enjoy the adventures that lie ahead for each of us. After the long journey back home from the second of the two drop-off’s, amid the spin of relocation and the stir of uncertainty, a grounding reminder of our connectedness rang out in the techy-est of ways as we nestled back into our nest – just the two of us. That familiar, customized text ringtone sounded from Mama’s nearby-phone…the ping from beyond that we’d not-so-secretly been waiting for since we hugged goodbye oh so many hours ago. We’d resisted reaching out ourselves, holding back, letting them find heir freedom without the weight of an anchoring, helicoptering parent. But our seeds were now sown, and the moment of truth had arrived in the form of a text. How much were we missed? Had homesickness set in this early on?  What sage advice were they seeking as the reality of their separation and independence sank in? It all was answered for us in a simple, single, brief, but effective text: “Mama…could you put more money in my account?” Alas, let the excitement begin!
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