The World is Waiting

I would like to propose a moratorium on the phrase “empty nest”.  It causes me to cringe. I hate the image of birds moping around and tweeting somber tunes as they pick old threads and burrs from tangled twigs. Honestly, have you ever seen a bird just sitting in a nest by itself just for the heck of it, wondering what to do next?

I am utterly done with the following conversation:

“So, Matt’s off to college!”

“Yes, can you believe it? And your son (daughter) too!”

“How did this happen?” Both of us widen our eyes and shrug together. “I feel like I just brought him to kindergarten.”

“Are we that old?” Both of us shake our heads and secretly compare crows feet.

“At least I have Jimmy and Shannon still around, but YOU… Wow.  Ready for the empty nest? How are you going to handle that? What are you going to do?”  Like this is the first time I might have pondered such questions.

“Actually, I…”

“I’m going to hate it,” she cuts me off and proceeds to wail, ”  All those empty rooms. What will I do with myself? Am I actually going to have to talk to my husband? I don’t even know if we have anything in common anymore. What does a 50-something woman do then?  Oh boy… Phew…  not looking forward to that empty nest. Now, what were you saying before?”

Well, let me tell you, sister.  The first thing I am going to do is stop hanging around with whiny, windbags like you who have forgotten that they are multidimensional. While you are dreaming up clever quips to spice up the small talk with your husband at the dinner table, I will be planning to cross the globe with mine so we can enjoy the gifts of this planet. God willing, I will have decades of time to explore life, discover new passions and affect positive change in a broken world that needs every single skill that we have honed through years of parenting.

My knees weaken at the thought of standing at the door of Matt’s first dorm room while he counts the seconds until we leave him alone, and I will grant myself sufficient time to pause wistfully in my children’s bedrooms and cry tears of salutation to days gone by, but I refuse to look at this ending as ‘job over’. Mothering never ends, it just changes like the seasons.  We stand like the great, spreading maple for so many consecutive years of summer that we forget to look forward to the brilliance of our leaves in the fall.

Words can not capture the power of nurture. Imagine our collective ability to bring comfort to the lonely and fight for the bullied. Imagine the wisdom and pep talks to those in despair, the simple power of a mother’s hand on a shoulder, the positive energy of a pat on the back. Imagine thousands of children going to bed on full stomachs for the first time. Our communities need us. The world needs us.  This time of life does not have to be about emptiness at all.  It is about the opportunity to soar so high on wings of love that we let our homes grow dusty and our gardens untended.

So I propose that we rename this time in our lives to something more positive and life giving.  Let’s leave  the nests to the birds to worry about, our world is waiting…

Do you have any ideas?



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6 Responses to The World is Waiting

  1. sharon leaf says:

    Hi Susan! Well, you know how I feel about the subject. I’ll try to keep this short, but this is a grand time in our lives to extend our boundaries to those around us who could use a helping hand. When Rob and I found ourselves alone in our 40’s, we moved to Sweden for a year to attend an international Bible college, traveled to Israel, then trekked through Siberia for a month on the Trans Siberian Railway giving humanitarian aid. Two years later we volunteered on a World War II ship for 14 months, traveled the seven seas, and ultimately helped transport Russian Jews to Israel. Last trip? Two years ago to Istanbul and Sweden. How old are we? I’m celebrating my 65th birthday in a few days and I haven’t stopped yet (don’t plan to). I believe in celebrating OUR lives by celebrating those less fortunate. I love your blog; keep on writing!

    • Oh, Sharon! You are one of the most inspirational women I know! Your post reply makes me want to pack my bags right now. And you neglected to mention that you are now a host on a famulous blog talk radio show. I love your enthusiasm for lfe~

  2. Jamie says:

    Hi Susan,
    I love finding all of these powerful voices out here in blog land. Empty nest must mean it’s time to fly! My husband and I bought ten acres of land a few years ago, unloaded 75 percent of all “stuff” and built a straw bale house. We are still finishing it. I love my berry garden and my new life. I also love taking my place as an Elder with my grandchildren. Looking up . . .

  3. marysigmond says:

    I have a sister in law who all but stuck her head in the oven when her golden child left for college. My brother in law would admonish us with “Just wait,” as if I were doomed to the same path. In my blog, “Love Sherpas” I talk about how everyone was ready for the next chapter to begin. Everybody.
    And that’s what this is, the next chapter, waiting to be written. You have said it so well.
    Blessings, fellow multidimensional!

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