This mothers newly empty nest.....
"..... in all the world Our Nest is Best" is the conclusion of a classic children's book and a phrase we have oft repeated over the years regardless of where we called 'home'.
Over the previous seven years ALL five of our children have graduated from high school and moved on to college (interestingly all at BYU-I), and a myriad of other life adventures. But over and over again, they have returned accordion-like to fill up our home and then leave again leaving behind a different mixture of siblings to form tight bonds of familiarity and memories.
It has been our observation, that most families nests, empty one at a time, a year or sometimes many years in between, providing time for parents to adjust to at least some degree. But for us, it seemed the nest just became slightly less crowded, and the table a little less noisy, for brief months, before filling up again to near capacity. Just 7 weeks ago, although our first born Nikelle, was missing, our church pew was filled with a full complement of "birds", when one counted a son-in-law and, "fiancé" in the mix all home for the mandatory college break at the end of each summer.
That week, began a busy and chaotic period of work schedules, transportation cooperation, college prep, and wedding planning that is more the norm than not it seems for this household. And then, after weeks of packing and sorting, a living room scattered with lounging young adults and humming mac laptops, and white lace and sewing pins constantly about, in one fell swoop the nest emptied en-mass.
On Tuesday, we began the last trip in our big burgundy Astro Van, once again filled to capacity with college tubs, but also pulling a small U-haul trailer with bedroom furniture for Whitney's upcoming December 20th wedding.
Thursday we unloaded belongings at three different college apartments (Tiahna and Nikelle moved their own belonging), and a storage unit for Whitney, checked in our sweet last Freshman Kaloni, said our good-byes to all, and then drove away....alone....together.
The long drive home, completed the next day, which also happened to be my 47th birthday, was an unusual one for Jeff and me. Usually, we have so much to talk about as we drive, but this time we drove in silent reflection for hour on end. We have talked about it in the few days since and likely will discuss more as we sort out our feelings. But I believe we both felt a deep fatigue from having given our all to so consuming a task as striving to raise and prepare 5 wonderful, gifted, capable and faithful , but also sometimes willful young people, to be a blessing to the world. We are confident they will be an influence for good regardless of or perhaps in spite of us, from here on out. And in addition there were so many feelings, and memories to sort through in the hours we have driven so many times for so many years past.
Upon returning to town, we pulled in to return the U-haul trailer, found a powered car wash, (the first of many I believe, as we have never before, NOT washed our own vehicle at home), where we washed the bugs off the van, and then drove home where Jeff immediately sat at the computer to list the van for sell. Twenty-four hours later it is sold.
That good, reliable and versatile vehicle has been a blessing to us for nearly the same amount of time and years that Jeff served as Bishop of the Shoreline ward. We purchased it in the spring of 2005, and that fall he was called as Bishop. In June of this year, on Father's Day 2012, Jeff was released, in September all the children left for school. With Tiahna married, and her and sister Nikelle both preparing to graduate in December, Whitney preparing to be sealed and married also in December and her fiancé Austin Lee set to graduate next July, it seemed obvious that our need for so large a vehicle had mostly passed. We had taken one last trip together to Poulsbo to be at the wedding reception of dear and influential friends, earlier in August. Then it had faithfully delivered so many belongings to school for the kids, and now....
Well, Jeff and I had prayed that if it was right to sell it we could feel good about it and that it would be a blessing to another family as it had been for us. It sold so easily and under circumstances that we feel certain have answered that prayer. We slowly came to know that the man who called about it was also LDS, with four teenagers at home. Later we learned his wife had died of breast cancer 4 years prior as well. His plate is full, and we could see his old vehicle and know that this one would be a big improvement for them. It is a nice thing to be able to contribute in passing on blessings.
So many changes for each of us in so short a time. And for me personally. For several years I have spent many hours alone, being very busy, gardening, cooking, or doing who knows what that takes so much time in creating home for a family of busy teenagers/young adults, and a husband. The kids passed through in rushes, gusts and flurries of activity, words, and needs. And then passed out again to work and friends and sports, and assignments in the same manner. At the same time Jeff was serving our family and the Lord and passed in and out more quietly, but left me alone much just the same. Because of this, I had anticipated the "empty nest" a lot and had thought that it would not actually feel very different. Alas, I was wrong.
I have spent the last 3 days, feeling adrift and disconcerted even as I go about very familiar and ordinary tasks. The lights need to be turned off, not left on, the doors locked not left open, and food needs put away not left out. The reality that not only is no one home, but no one is coming home, leaves me tearful just to write and has been a very unexpected emotion.
My dear and good companion reminds me we are in transition and those are uncomfortable. But we are determined to strive to move forward, and on with grace and purpose. We are slowly bringing order back to our disordered nest, and preparing to try a few new things. We are discussing how we want to fellowship and associate with others so we do not become isolated and cut off from those to whom we can be a mutual blessing and influence. And we are setting goals. We are so grateful for the lives and choices of our children. We know we have been privileged to be known as their parents and to be mutually taught by one another in this great institution called "FAMILY". We want them to be as proud (Jeff would NEVER use that word) of us in the years ahead, as we are of them.
Jeff and I continue to be blessed by association with our parents and siblings. It seems I am esteemed by many because I am related to others who are esteemed. I expect that Jeff and I will find that continues through the lives of our children. We hope we will do the same for them.
Except for memories and desires for improvement in the future, our nest is empty now. But we hope our choices will create a nest that continues to draw back our children, friends, family, and neighbors to make even more happy memories in the years ahead.
With love and gratitude for you and the role you continue to play in our lives and this transition,
Becky (and Jeff) :)