You get married, bringing all of the baggage of childhood and early adolescence, and sometimes even early adulthood to the melding of two lives. You add another life, and another, and another, drawing together as a family unit through shared adventures and sorrows, a blended extended family, one messy living space for all, and a fuzzy if optimistic vision of what life will be like when everybody “grows up”.
Then one day, out of the blue, you glance up from the basket of laundry and realize that it has begun. The senior pictures have been taken, colleges get visited, applications are sent off, acceptance letters begin arriving, and it hits you; five will very soon become four. Chances are you’ll be too busy with the everyday chaos generated by the rest of the family to feel the loss, right? Competitions will still have to be gotten to, concerts played, clubs attended, homework done, and teachers met for the two remaining chicks… You’re not worried about that oldest out there. She’s a great kid, with a good head on her shoulders, looking the rest of her life straight in the eye. In fact, you’re a little jealous of the freedoms she has ahead of her, the choices yet to be made, the vast array of experiences that will shape her adulthood. There will be the little dividends of being a smaller family; it’s easier to find a four-top at a restaurant than seating for five. And car rides will be less crowded. And next year, coming right up, daughter #2 makes her own move to college, leaving the youngest as an “only child” for the next five years.
All of which leaves you looking in the mirror, trying to see the person you were in the eyes that look back. The family needs you less, you have more time for you. So what DID you like to do, way back then? What took up your time, raised your awareness, made you feel alive? And why is it so very hard to remember?
The best you can do is take the journey to your empty nest just one bird at a time.