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Two birds in nest

Shortly after saying a tearful goodbye to our daughter on a campus far away, her older brother decided to join my husband and me for a few days of golf, paddle boarding, and relaxing at our cabin in the mountains.

As parents, these are the moments we breathe into with gratitudeโ€”when time blesses our hearts.

Soon he will be headed off to school as well, but thankfully at a college less than an hour away. He is close enough to golf 9-holes with us in an afternoon, then grab a bite together, and still make it back to campus in time to hang with his friends for the evening.

As our adult children spread their wings, many parents, like us, are finding unique ways to stay connected with their kids.

Our oldest son, who has autism, has chosen to continue to live with us, and we feel truly blessed. We’ve turned the upstairs into “his apartment.” When we are all home, he comes downstairs to tells us “he loves us,” and heads back up to his sanctuary. Fortunately, he’s very independent and loves his daily routine of work and activities, which keeps him fulfilled and engaged.

I saved the best of our ‘๐˜ด๐˜ถ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฐ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฑ๐˜ต๐˜บ ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ต’ for lastโ€”my husband.

We. Are. Still. Here. Together.

We built this nest, and we are looking at this next phase as an exciting opportunityโ€”rather than an empty one. We have been intentional about what we would like the next few years to look like, and are excited to experience this new chapter as it unfolds.

We are looking forward to more spontaneous outings, dinner with friends, and a renewed intimacy. We also know, just as we become accustomed to living with two fewer bodies in the house, the holidays will be upon us, and we’ll all be together again.

And isn’t that what is really important? It doesn’t matter if we are all ‘home’ in the same nest or not. We are a family because of our love for each other and because we choose to stay connected no matter where we all live. And that is the kind of nest that will never be empty.

A few short weeks ago, our daughter was graduating from high school. This morning, we flew her halfway across the country to begin her freshman year in college. Her older brother came out of his room to say goodbye, singing, “Leavin’ on a jet plane, don’t know when you’ll be back again…” We laughed. It cut the tension we were all feeling.

I woke early. My husband said I snored so he ๐˜จ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ญ๐˜บ kicked me all night. I’m surprised I slept so deeply. Ughโ€”I’ll have to start using my automated snore pillow again. 

Welcome to midlife!

As I hurried around the house before everyone got up, trying to clean up for ‘who knows why’ while we’re gone, all I could think about is how messy my closets are.

How did they get so unorganized? Why didn’t I organize them when we were in lockdown? I had all that time, and I didn’t get anything cleaned or organized. ๐˜•๐˜ฐ ๐˜”๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜ฆ ๐˜’๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฐ-๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ง๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ.

I know what I am doingโ€”I am avoiding “it.” ๐˜ ๐˜ข๐˜ฎ ๐˜ข ๐˜ฑ๐˜ณ๐˜ฐ ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ช๐˜ด.

I’m avoiding thinking about the giant void my daughter leaves behind. The one filled with infectious laughter and the funny, contorted faces she makes when she springs to life ๐™ฌ๐™–๐™ฎ ๐™ฉ๐™ค๐™ค ๐™ก๐™–๐™ฉ๐™š ๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™ฃ๐™ž๐™œ๐™๐™ฉ.

And the other void where she enters a room at full strideโ€”in mid-sentenceโ€”spilling the latest tea. She hates it when I need her to back it up a little, rewind. “Mom, I already told you about so and so…” ๐ผ ๐‘˜๐‘›๐‘œ๐‘ค, ๐‘ก๐‘’๐‘™๐‘™ ๐‘š๐‘’ ๐‘Ž๐‘”๐‘Ž๐‘–๐‘›, ๐ผ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘–๐‘›๐‘˜ ๐‘ก๐‘œ ๐‘š๐‘ฆ๐‘ ๐‘’๐‘™๐‘“.

Noise and commotion also have a way of filling up spaces. My daughter’s girlfriends came over last night to wish her well and keep her company while she packed. I could hear them laughing and stomping up and down the stairs as they helped her load everything into the car for our early morning departure.

Then she yelled, “We’re headed to Taco Bell.” Laughter, chatter, and patter of feet shuffled out the doorโ€”then silence. ๐˜‹๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ง๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ด๐˜ช๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ค๐˜ฆ.

This is how it will be, quieter, for a while anyway.

Her two brothers are still at home. They will easily fill some of the spaces she has left behind. Their friends will come over, and jokes and laughter will fill the airโ€”the TV will inevitably drone on.

The boys each have their own unique way of filling the spaces in our home. It will be comforting to have them home for at least a few more weeks.

But there are some spaces only a daughter, our only daughter, can fill. The space where she’ll let me hold her when she’s sad and hug her until she pulls away with a snarky, “Okay, now, Mom.” As if I didn’t know I was holding her just past ‘comfortable’ on her hug-o-meter.

It’s a good thing she picked Texas. Texas is a big state with lots of open spaceโ€”she’s going to need all of it. I can’t wait to hear about all the people she meets, the subjects she studies, and the places she goes.

Facetime, family-group texting, and eagerly awaited phone calls will bridge some of the space between us.

She’ll come home for the holidays. Her laughter will again fill the house. From experience with her older brother coming home from college, I know that some spaces will be forever changed. Still, new and exciting dimensions will continue to be added.

There is no holding her back, even if I wanted toโ€”which I don’t. The world is a big place, and I’m excited to watch how she chooses to fill up her own unique spaces in her life.

With much love to our daughter, Mom XOXO

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