An Empty Nest

A messy house or a comforting memory? What I learned when I woke alone at 5 a.m. to get ready for surgery, and there was no cereal on the floor to crunch.
I thought cereal on the floor in the morning annoyed me.
I thought 2 a.m. nightmares made me sleepy during the day.
I thought those fights over the toys stressed me out.
I thought a messy house was overwhelming.
I could go on . . . but the truth is the crunching cereal brings me music.
The 2 a.m. nightmare brings me intimacy.
Toy boy’s fights bring me understanding.
The messy house brings me memories.

I thought I was taking care of of all my sons — but maybe all my sons care of me in ways I don’t even see. When did this shift happen?

The surgery no longer frightened me, the empty nest did. Nothing could make me feel “supported” when I felt the quietness of my house without my family. When I searched “empty nest” on google, I found loads of support on this topic. Practical issues that make sense – a time to renew the spark in your marriage, a time to explore hobbies, go back to school – I want to do those things because I want to do them – not because I have to fill a void in my life left by a family that’s grown. How can a hobby fix this quiet ache?

The most amusing comment mothers of two children say to me at end-of-year school parties is, “At least you get to do this three more times with your boys, so you don’t need to be sad.” The truth is, each child multiplies the loss, and I re-live the sadness from the other 3 boys with the fourth boy.

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