An Empty Nest Causes this Mom to Spread Her Wings

November brings with it cooler weather, leaves of gold and the feeling of thanks in the air. It’s the perfect time to begin a practice of gratitude. You Know Neen is hosting the 2nd Annual 30 Days of Gratitude blog series, a place where the experience of gratitude will be explored and shared. I, along with several other contributors will be sharing our thoughts on all things gratitude. 

Feeling gratitude for something you originally dreaded is life changing.  I am currently grateful for my very recently emptied nest. Six months ago, I never would’ve uttered, let alone, written those words.

In fact, I was beyond sad anticipating a huge loss that would be occurring for me, a stay at home mom who loved her “job”, when my youngest son left for college in the fall.  A lot has changed in the last 6 months, and I find myself completely embracing this new phase of my life and feeling grateful everyday.

Thanks to a few of my feathered friends, my teachers, I have learned a new way of looking at things.  Or maybe I was awakened to something I already knew but needed to be reminded of.  For me, real life, right in my face visuals are very helpful and often necessary to teach me what I need to know.

God knows this about me and it happens a lot. For example, the summer following my oldest son’s high school graduation, I was blessed to receive a special gift – a beautiful red breasted robin building her nest in the downspout right outside my kitchen window.  I had a front row seat in Mrs. Robin’s lifetime classroom.  I watched her from the very first day of nest making to the very last day of scooting her last baby out of the nest.

unknownShe built her nest twig by twig, she laid her eggs and sat on them hours on end for two weeks, she would constantly scavenger for worms to feed her babies. Then, after the two weeks with her beloved babes, she let them go. They spread their little wings and flew the coop.

This is the cycle of life. This is how it works. It was a huge visual lesson for me.  This is what we mothers do. We spend our days and nights, 24/7, taking care of our kids.  Raising them and providing them with all the love, care, support, and guidance we can.  Our goal is to raise healthy, happy, independent, thoughtful, loving kids who are good citizens.  We prepare them to become responsible adults.

So, after my life lesson from a bird, saying goodbye to my first son as he left for college was a little less painful than I thought it would be.  I was happy for him and he was ready to go.  Then, when my youngest son graduated this past May, I remembered this life lesson from Mrs. Robin and prayed and prayed for another visual lesson.  Every morning I prayed for God to send the robin back to me.

I had read that birds will often return to past nesting locations to build their new nests.  I was constantly looking and waiting for a robin to build a nest again outside of my kitchen window.  I desperately needed a refresher course.

May turned to June and there was no robin, no nest.  In June, my husband and I went to Florida to close on a new home that we decided to purchase anticipating our empty nest and new phase of life.  I arrived a day early to meet the sellers and do the walk through.  The seller pulled me aside, with concern in her eyes to hesitantly tell me something.  She said that, in our outdoor living area, right on the curtain rod, a mourning dove had built a nest and had already laid her eggs.  She was concerned that I would be upset and want to get  the nest removed.

Instead, I shocked her by bursting into tears!  God had given me my bird and nest in my new home in Florida!  It once again reminded me that this is the way things are supposed to be.  This is why we become moms in the first place.  Both of my boys are happy at college and are incredibly good citizens.  They are healthy, thoughtful and independent.  They are thriving.

I am embracing my empty nest and this new phase of MY life.  I am trying new things, learning, growing, and becoming braver.  I am thoroughly enjoying my Florida home and all of my new feathered friends – pelicans, seagulls, egrets, and sand pipers to name a few – I encounter on a daily basis.  My empty nest has provided a new opportunity to renew my relationship with my husband, focus some time on myself and spread MY OWN wings and fly!

Laurie Doherty is an avid seeker of all things truth and love and a remarkable teacher to all that know her. She is splitting her new empty nest time between Chicago and Florida with her husband, two boys (sometimes!) and her darling dog. 

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