Last week we helped our daughters – ages 25 and 22 – move in to a 2 bedroom apartmentin the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago. Samantha and Johanna say that this time, they are living together by choice! I’m delighted that they actually want to spend this season of early adulthood figuring out how to pay the bills, do the dishes, and carve out careers side by side.
When I came back to our suburban home, the home we have loved for 23 years, there was certainly relief from so much STUFF the girls had been accumulating for their new place. Finally, I could see the floor in our garage and basement and dining room. I walked up to their bedrooms which were clean for the first time in months…and it hit me. This time the Empty Nest is for real. There will be no more coming home for summers after college. The only visits overnight might be for a holiday. A door has closed on one season of motherhood, and a new one has begun.
We are told from the beginning that our job as parents is to offer Roots and Wings. In our heads we all know this to be true. But working its way down to our hearts, this Wings part is not so easy. I do celebrate with joy the mature steps I see my girls taking. I love to watch them make wise decisions about their finances, their part-time jobs, their emerging involvement in church, and even the design of their place largely built on garage sales and Craig’s List. I am not clamoring to be their daily guide any more. It truly is a joy to accept a new role as their biggest fan, an advisor when asked, and always, a friend.
On Sunday we took them to brunch at a fabulous place in their new neighborhood – a restaurant beyond their budget. We let them order big, and relished in the food and conversation. We laughed at their stories, and my heart was overflowing with joy. They are flourishing. I can take a deep breath and know that the “for real empty nest” will be more than just ok. All shall be well…