As I write this, my son is steadily moving his stuff out of his room. Today is moving day for him – and the beginning of a new life in a new home.
For his dad and I, it’s a new beginning too – for the first time in 27 years, we’ll be alone.
In other words, it’s empty nest time — a time I’ll admit in years past that I’ve looked forward to — but now that it’s here, the prospect is less appealing.
Our oldest, Miranda, moved out more than two years ago, and that was hard, but then there was still our baby boy at home, all six feet of him.
Now, having just turned 24 a couple of weeks ago, Zack is also going out on his own.
His dad and I are so proud of both our kids, and like Charles says, we want to see them both independent, happy and productive adults, and an asset to the communities they live in.
But then there is my heart — and it’s a little sore right now.
So many memories come back to me, unbidden and unexpected. I look at the man in front of me, and I see nothing but the little boy.
I remember how he used to not want to be away from me — not even for a little while, and now here he is a man on his own, ready to take on the world. Where in the world did the time go, and by the way, who is that (older) woman staring at me from the mirror?
Wasn’t it just yesterday that Charles and I would tuck Miranda and Zack into our bed to let them fall asleep and then carry them stealthily to their own beds? We called Zack the “boomerang” because for a long time I would wake to hear the patter of his little slipper-clad feet heading back to our bed, waiting to be lifted up and placed between the two of us, where he would usually stay.
I don’t remember when that stopped. But now, I so wish I had took more notice, not just of that, but of so many things.
My editor and good friend Zach Mitcham is at the opposite end of this spectrum with his little family; the day my son turned 24, his son turned four weeks old.
Like me, Zach knows the time will pass quickly. But he cannot know how quickly it will go – cannot know how fast that little girl of his will become a woman; how fast that tiny baby boy will broaden into a full-grown man.
None of us can know the things we haven’t experienced – we can imagine, we can empathize, but we cannot know.
My mama use to tell me that, and like most everything else, I now know just how right she was.
So here we are, Charles and I, back to where we started, with just the two of us.
Our babies have flown away and the nest is empty (except for a few dogs and more than a few cats).
But unlike it was for both of us, whose parents died when we were young, I hope our kids will be able to return home to “daddy and mama’s house” as often as they like for many years to come.
And I hope we’ll be around to watch as they build nests of their own.
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for The Madison County Journal.