It’s an odd concept for new moms to think about. It feels like centuries from now when your babies are little; the next moment you’re watching them graduate high school and prepare to head out into the world as independent almost-adults.
As the nest in our own family has emptied, one child at a time, we’ve struggled first with the feelings of loss and fear – are they OK? Are they making good choices? Do they even miss us at all?
The next phase seems to be a sense that all is OK with our missing children, and our own space is now a bit quieter, but nice in its own way. Of course, just when you finally get used to the quiet, tidy house, they come home for a visit – with a car full of friends in tow.
A fellow blogger (www.thelover.roadoflove.com) shares a story of taking her mom to the local Starbucks for a coffee in a wheelchair, passing another mom pushing her daughter back home from the same Starbucks in a stroller. The mental imagery of the circle of life is perfect. We start out pushing them in the stroller; we end up, if we’re lucky, still sharing a coffee, but with them pushing us.
Our own family has a “circle of life” story that is often shared, and completely treasured. When daughter number three was born, my husband and I were in the middle of growing a thriving consulting business. I couldn’t afford time off work, but I also needed to travel for work and was unwilling to leave my new little one behind.
We began asking a church family’s teenaged daughter to travel with us whenever she could, caring for our infant, and later, as the summers rolled around, working full time ferrying kids to swim lessons, dance lessons, summer camp and all the other activities we wanted them to experience but couldn’t get them to ourselves. She traveled with us on every family vacation for years.
Sara became a part of our family. She went off to college, but always made time to come visit on every trip back home. Our youngest and she share a bond that is strong and deep.
Eventually she married and brought her east-coast husband back to our town to start their own family. When she asked us to be her children’s god-family, we felt blessed beyond words.
Now, as we prepare to send our youngest daughter off to college next fall, I’ve got three little ones – Sara’s children – to play with, to laugh with and most importantly to let me give them all the cuddles and hugs I possibly can.
We’re on the verge of becoming true empty-nesters. I’m preparing myself emotionally to handle this next step in life’s journey, although I know it will hit me hard.
So here’s my advice to all you new young moms:
Cuddle them; treasure them; remember to sing to them; play with them; laugh with them as often as you can.
The time will fly. The nest will empty. Part of you will be excited about the new freedom; part of you will ache with emptiness.
But the journey continues.