Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Empty Nest

I've been told I was suffering from Empty Nest Syndrome. I believe it's something like "why isn't it empty yet" syndrome. For the record, I have enjoyed raising my children and don't see my job being over yet. The work that began 20+ years ago won't be over for at least 20 more. They will always be my children.

I have enjoyed raising children of all ages. When they were infants, I enjoyed feeding them and even changing diapers (I'm very proud of the fact that never once did my son nail me during diaper changes). I enjoyed singing Ricky Scaggs' songs to them as they went to sleep. Strange as it sounds, I enjoyed sitting with them and crying after one of the XYZ shots (I know there were letters in it and I know it hurt my little girl). I enjoyed walking with them to the bus stop and standing there waiting on the bus. I enjoyed "parent" days at school where I sat at lunch with them or PTA meetings. I enjoyed band concerts, chorus presentations, plays, band competitions, baseball games, cross country meets and all of the other things.

But I also enjoy the thought of one day being free. No more questions about "what's for dinner" or "what are we doing this weekend". I can choose or (more importantly) I can NOT choose. As Dr. King quoted "that old Negro spritual 'Free at last, Free at last, Thank God, I'm free at last."

The most impending note of freedom is a wedding. Dads are supposed to be upset with the guys that take away their little girls. I'm not. If there is one thing that I think I did right, I think it was to teach my daughter to make good choices. In this case, she has made a good choice. Not that everything will be roses. It never is. But rather it's a choice that she can live with. Each day (well at least most days) she can look back and say "yes, it was a good choice". I don't think she will ever wake up and say "why did I do this?" She's been told that she will and maybe because of that she will, but it's not in her nature. Instead, her nature is not to question it. In a few days, it just becomes fact. An important day in history, but just fact. She starts a new chapter in her life.

And once the new chapter is opened, you can't go back to the old chapter. Once the page is turned, it can't be un-turned. And she will never look back.

So, I look forward to the empty nest. I can rest easy with the fact that my oldest has learned well. I also look forward to the job of parenting an adult child who thinks my job was over years ago. It will be strenuous at times (it sure has been the last few years) but it's a new chapter in my life also.

I still have one in the nest and the one out of the nest that shouldn't be. The nest maybe emptier than before, but the job is not over. Empty nests are for birds...