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  • Writer's picturesadie.speaks

Mama Bird, Seasons Change

“It’s not only children who grow. Parents do, too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself.”

—Joyce Maynard

It was a bit of a long grief, this road to empty nest. Twelve Augusts ago, my firstborn daughter, Spice, effervescently made her way to a college dorm room and I drove away. I felt like a heartless soul to leave her to herself, alone, to figure out the world at eighteen years of age. What kind of a person does that to her offspring? Her child? The fruit of her womb? How could I?

Emotions ensued. I coped. Life goes on. I lifted my hands to the sun and grasped for a new normal.

'They' said I did good-- all this letting go and giving wings, but I was still rooted in this motherhood thing. I was still digging trenches and planting trees with an eight, thirteen, and sixteen year old at home.

I birthed all girl chicks: Spice, Little Bird, Cutie and Miss Miss.

The same emotions from 12 Augusts ago greeted me like clockwork, or a ticking time bomb, every 2 years-- Little Bird flew to college; 2 years, Spice graduated college and took her first real job eight hours away (North as the crow flies); add a year, and Little Bird got married just three weeks before Cutie ran onto a

college campus four states away. (due South)

And then there were three: Me, My Husband and Miss Miss. We reached for the sun. We became the three amigos. We made our nest as cozy as humanly possible.

Two years later, Spice and Cutie got married four months apart. I was getting better at giving wings, digging up traditional roots -- sharing starts with our married daughters to grow their gardens and decorate their homes with the important things. They started adding baby chicks to nests. And grand-chicks made everything better.

Still reaching. Still growing. Still coping. Emotions ensuing.

2020 took my breath away. And I never got cOvid once.

I remember the day my time was up -- this 'reaching for the sun'; smiling at the well-wishers and nodding approvingly at the empty nest clichés. So many clichés. It was the last of 2019. Spice had just suffered a near-death experience. Cutie decided to move to the Far East in a few years. Little Bird still lived far away.

In the midst of her senior year of HS, Miss Miss elegantly stood before her Honors Choir to guest conduct the holiday classic song, "Carol the Bells". I sat in the balcony overlooking the concert hall. The sun was setting. The lump in my throat grew from absolute pride to a dreaded awareness that this thing called Empty Nest was lurking in the shadows. I began to weep. I wanted just one chick to stay, maybe?! As she led the choir in acapella parts, her tiny frame waved her arms in the air like wings. Everything about that night reminded me she was a young woman wanting to embark on a future that was coming too fast for me. Everything about that night told me even she couldn't keep the three amigos together. Everything about that night reminded me I would be relegated to a new role in life. Red Rover, Red Rover-send Empty Nest over. 'Cause like it or not, ready or not-- here I come!

Mama Bird, seasons change.

Time is short, young mamas.

Babies of the family grow up, too.

Babies don't keep.

I didn't want to be good at letting go. What's so wrong with holding on? How do you even pry your fingers back after Momming for twenty eight years? How do you even orient your life to a world without your children in your rooms and spaces? Moved away to far off locations?

Life changed. Got rearranged.

My parents moved, my Dad died-- my folks' belongings found new homes-- my Mom downsized to a tiny apartment. I bought her a memento that said: 'Home is where your Mom is'. My sense of 'nest' changed as I myself was saying good bye to familiar familial things and more importantly, the deepest of familiar precious people.

Miss Miss graduated high school in our front yard. Worldwide Pandemics do that. She moved to college a few short weeks after losing her Grandpa and before we sold the only home she ever knew.

It was a year.

How I missed her.

How I wished for things to be different.

How I wanted her to be the one who stayed longer than the rest.

How I wanted to beat the system.

This circle of life 'system' that has parents grow old and babies grow up and we are caught in the center of the circle.

This circle of looking behind and looking forward and seeing ourselves again for the first time in many years, in the middle of it all.

I had been warned. I had cherished the little ones. I had kept fire and faith in my marriage so I wasn't waking up to a stranger in these years. I took on new hobbies. I reconnected with old friends. I kept myself busy.

Everything seemed to catch up to me and twelve years of 'coping' dissolved into new lows of emotion. I tried to not let the reality that everything I had known in my adult life was now coming to a close, faze me. Everyone I had poured my very life into were now vessels for the Master's keeping, not mine. But the moon must move in phases. Seasons do change.

I birthed four chicks, one in every season: Fall, Spring, Summer and Winter.

Mama Bird, seasons change.

After thirty years of stay at home parenting, my fourth daughter walked down the aisle in June. Now, she's Mrs. Mrs.

This whole year, so many tears were shed. I realized, I simply could not call 'it' by its psychological syndrome name so I flipped the script. I wrote MY FULL NEST across the top of a journal page and started listing my gratefulness--

I reached for the sun.

At least I tried.

All my chicks are married. They have new names now. They are moving in different life seasons than I. They are grown. Over the most fruitful and eventful twelve years, they decidedly and officially flew the coop. Our full nest still holds a whole lot of love, some (er, many) tears -- each other and more pictures in boxes than any one person should own.

The next 30 years of my life will be different. But they will be lived, with fullness.

In this new season,

I'm reaching for the sun.


Living All Alone

I never thought ahead this far

To a family all grown —

Living all alone.

Every daughter

Different state

Every daughter

Made a great escape

From underneath my wing

Away from the songs I used to sing

Taking issue with sometimes,


Now living alone with him

The one who gave me

Those four little grins

And realizing we are back to ‘us’

Under the great big canopy

Of a great big family.

Us started out as two

Plus four

Then time flew

And then there were many more

And I’m just catching up

To all the change

I’m just catching up

To our family, rearranged

And I’m just catching up

With the man who made me ‘us’

And I am realizing how full

Was the journey of this deep trust

From lovers to parents

That’s how the equation works

From parents to lovers

Living alone, the 'emptiness' sometimes hurts

But we are under this great big canopy

Of a great big family

I won’t call it empty

This nest of little birds, now flown

We are still in this refuge together

It’s a full roost, though living alone

My nest is full

Full of memories

Full of conversation

Full of contemplation

Full of grandchildren, though distant

Full of all things, reminiscent

Full of orderly spaces

Less laundry, less little faces

But this place where we raised our babies

Is not empty or wanting

Not fleeting or daunting

No, not young or flashy or flaunting

This nest holds ‘us’

Full of great love and life’s deepest wisdom—

Learned at the knee

Of those we nurtured

And this nest, it is not empty

It might be quieter now

Less bustle, less fuss

Living alone

But it’s full of happiness, full of us

Under the great big canopy

Of a great big family.

9:40 pm



We never spent even one wedding anniversary without a little one around as I was expecting (halfway along) on our first anniversary. It took us 11.5 years to grow from two to a family of six.

In June, we became a family of 16.

32 years married and the Lord has multiplied our love by 8x.

Empty spaces aren’t multiplied but full places are—

Here’s to our nest!

Full of love, blessing, the familiar and the new— here’s to the next 32 years! ❤️

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