Empty Nest

The Logical Heart Knows Best

Nothing prepares you for the starkness of the transition to an empty nest. If you have over one child, you get eased into it more gently. The firstborn begins their journey. You miss them terribly. Nothing can fill that empty space in your home, but there are still other nestlings to tend to. The remaining nestlings are a soothing balm for the part of your soul that aches for the fledgling that’s testing their wings.

You peek into their vacant room, so quiet, a museum of tokens and mementos that tugs at your heart and evokes all the touching memories. So many beautiful images, sounds, and sensations wash over you. Your throat catches and the tears of gratitude and joy, mixed with the aching space of them not with you anymore, catch you by surprise.

Then when all of your not so little ones leave, you may feel walloped by the vacuum, the vacancy. Your life is changing shape, you don’t know what to do with the empty spaces.

You miss all the scurrying, the rustling, the playfulness, joy, and laughter. The, “I’m hungries, I’m bored’s, this is so stoopids, make him stops.”

You miss nurturing, doting, checking on them, peeking in and chatting, bringing them snacks, baking goodies, and cooking special meals. Watching stuff together, singing together, playing games, the silliness, the wrestling, the Nerf wars, pillow fights, sword fights, the sleepovers, bringing them to school, to events, MechaCon, parks, museums, movies, the mall, chuckling together at the pet bunny and rat’s antics. The Halloweens, Thanksgivings, Christmases, schools out for the summers.

Loving on them, listening to them, and overall just enjoying their presence and unconditional love.

You feel so grateful and honored to parent them. It’s the greatest gift you’ve ever received, and you knew it would pass all too quickly, so you did your best to savor every second, even the times when you were overwhelmed and tired, you always went to sleep feeling infinitely grateful for the children.

The world which was senseless before instantly had meaning when they were born. Because of them, you saw everything in a new, more loving light. You finally saw yourself as you really were, through them, and you saw everyone else in that same way, so your world opened up to the truth for the first time.

From then on, everything got better and better.

You saw how divine and precious we are through the shining, brilliant innocence of those babes. What a gift, a treasure, a privilege. How did I deserve such grace to be given so much unbridled, pure love, joy, and adoration with these children?

As they get bigger, you give them room to become more independent, to explore, experiment, and grow into their own. You want them to be free and happy. You want them to live their best lives, be true to themselves, and do what’s right for them.

You want to protect them and seek to shelter them from pain. Yet you know that they also need to learn and grow through life’s challenges, so you support them, hopefully without smothering them, manipulating them, or crossing their boundaries. Sometimes you get it just right, often you fall short, but hopefully, it’s enough. Hopefully, they know they’re deeply and unconditionally loved and accepted. That’ll have to do.

The time comes so swiftly, from those anxious first sleepless newborn nights to now when they’re over a thousand miles away. You feel you could spend eons with them and it would still never be enough 🙂

In the first year of the empty nest, you ride the emotional waves, which start as a tsunami and end with gentle ebbs and flows.

When they visit for the first time, you’re ecstatic, then when they depart it hits you so brutally, the wind knocked from your chest. You didn’t realize how much you would miss them all over again.

Each visit the missing them gets gentler, your breath catches, but you’ve accepted that they’re grown now. This is the nature of things. Everything is always in motion and changing here in this physical world. It’s all ephemeral.

Nothing to hold on to but the LOVE.

It helps that you know they’re doing fine, are happy and thriving. You make do with texting, phone calls and we’re so fortunate to have Facetime and Skype!

You want to make lots of money and send it to them, but you are finally having a breather and your body and spirit protest. It’s not dire anymore. They are making their own way now. You still want to help them in every way possible, but you know that you’d better go about helping yourself so you will be around to enjoy them through the rest of your lives together!

You still worry and fret about their health, happiness and safety, but know it’s out of your control now, so you think positive, loving thoughts and let go as best you can.

You have all those boxes of photos, the videos, through the technology changes, you have so many memories stashed on media, waiting to be sorted, remastered and reorganized so that you can revisit those precious, magical times. You think of how much fun it will be to view them all together, how adorable, heartwarming and hilarious it will be!

To make myself feel better, I imagine that all of our histories and memories record holographically in another dimension where we can even relive them if we want, or just watch them immersively too 🙂 That helps me cope 🙂 You never know?!

It’s getting easier, the empty spaces are being absorbed. I’m left with tremendous gratitude and reverence for every nuance, nook and cranny of this precious journey with beloveds. Brimming over with the wholeness of it all. Ultimate, all-encompassing, infinite, unbridled love with the beautiful children.

By knowing this through them, I know this for us all. Each one of us, no matter what it appears to be here on earth, what we truly are is this LOVE.

When I am missing them now, I can fill that space inside by remembering that they’re in my heart, always a part of me. I can feel it, the warmth in my chest welling up, it travels out through my eyes and lights my face with a knowing smile 🙂

Michelle Miyagi
Hi! I was an RN, BSN in mental/behavioral health for 27 years. Now I'm helping empower caring people like me to prioritize themselves by maintaining healthier boundaries for more freedom, peace, and joy. I am also active in Long Covid advocacy.

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