Empty Nest? Not in this house.

One celebration down, one more to go. Yesterday we cheered as our son’s name was called on the loud speaker as he crossed the stage to receive his college diploma. The four years that have passed since the day we dropped him off have flown by in a quick minute. The skinny eighteen year old is now a burly thick twenty two year old with a college degree. It was a proud day for us as parents, but not a sad one because he is continuing his studies in graduate school and playing more football. No tearful goodbyes to this great school community and team quite yet.

On the drive home, the closer our car got to our house, the larger the lump in my throat grew. The realization of the next big celebration was starting to set in. In just a few weeks we will be cheering for another graduating child of ours. This one is a big milestone and a turning point for us as parents. Our last baby graduates from high school on a Saturday, and then leaves for his college the very next day. I knew this would come sooner than I was ready for it. The other morning I packed up his last sack lunch. For twenty-one years I have been making lunches, so as I filled the brown paper sack with a piece of fruit, as salty crunchy snack, a meaty sandwich and a sweet treat for dessert, it hit me that this task would no longer be the start of my days. There is something kind of special about packing up something for someone you love that they will open when they are away from you in another setting. I will miss that.

Lately the two words people keep saying to me are, “Empty nest.” My response is to agree that “yes, my nest will be empty of my four children.” But then I quickly add, “But we recently added two aussiedoodles and a kitten to our family, so I do not feel like the nest is going to be empty and quiet like the words seem to convey.” These 50 plus pound pups are as energetic as grade school children, as messy as teenagers, and as demanding of my attention as my human children have been throughout the years. They need their mama. It was actually one of our reasons for getting Koda and Summer last June. We added Sansa this past winter because we missed having a cat in the house. She is right in the mix with the dogs.

It makes it hard to feel a hollow empty quiet feeling inside our nest with these three animals following me around the house. Thank goodness because I don’t want to feel the void left behind by my four children leaving our home. Each one will be where they are supposed to be. At one time that place was right under our same roof, but that’s changed. Now they are out there learning, working, and living independently. It makes me a proud MamaBear, not a sad one. After all, Koda, Summer and Sansa are here to make sure our nest does not feel empty.

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