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It is interesting that when our children leave home for college or other adventures we as parents are called “empty nesters”.
The term most likely originates from when chicks learn how to fly and leave the nest.
Most birds then mate again and their nest becomes full with eggs.
Humans on the other hand, unless they have multiple children, and their youngest leaves the nest, do not generally fill the spot with another child!
I recently watched a movie about 2 parents bringing their respective teenagers to a college campus for a tour, and ended up on a discovery about themselves in the process.
How they had suppressed emotions, a bad marriage, delaying interests to focus on raising a child, who would now be leaving, and they were left with seemingly an 18 year gap in paying attention to who they were and how they felt as a separate person.
Speaking from experience as a single parent, I was overjoyed and proud watching my daughter grow up from a tiny being I once held in my arms, to a young woman who was ready to explore her own frontiers lying ahead.
I did not really feel the empty nest for a long while, as I took on the role of her cheerleader and supporter, meanwhile finding my new independence interesting
and exciting.
But every year, when it’s time for “back to school shopping”, I find myself nostalgically looking at parents and children joyfully roaming the isles in the stores and selecting school supplies, clothes, shoes sport equipment. The scent of new backpacks and binders, new shoes, supplies for a dorm room take me back to days
I would take my young one shopping or even when my mother would take me and my siblings shopping before school started.
Whether we are conscious of it or not, being an empty nester carries its own grief. And only through feeling that grief and processing it, we can feel the joy of raising a chicken that has learned how to fly.