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The Season of the Empty Nest
by Mary Elder-Criss
12/27/13
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As I sit here in my quiet house this morning, I realize slowly that I have begun to get used to the absence of sound. As a mother of three adult children, the youngest being 18 now, and the oldest 29, who has lived on his own for 10 years, it is something you gradually become accustomed to, this quiet.

Both of my daughters work and are out of the house for major portions of the day, so I am often left alone to my own devices.

I just celebrated the last Christmas my oldest daughter will spend here at home, as just my child. Next year, she will be wed, and will be a wife, not just my daughter. Next Christmas will find my one remaining daughter, myself and my husband on Christmas morn opening gifts.

This thought of an empty nest, of watching my children grow up and leave home and become someone else's husband or wife, has terrified me for years.

What will I do when it is just my husband and I living here? It has been so long since we were alone. What will we talk about when we sit down to the dinner table? I envision lengthy silences, filled with only the sound of our molars grinding food, and broken by the clang of silverware against our plates. (okay, probably not, because I will be using paper plates)

How do you go back to being just a couple? What did we do all those years ago, before the children were born and raised? How do I manage my days without having a child here to talk to, to pick up after, or to wash clothes for?

This thought, although frightening at first, has gradually changed and has become something that I am now anticipating. God, in His infinite wisdom, has allowed me to gradually become accustomed to long periods of being at home either alone, or just with my husband. While the girls are either at work, or in school, or out with their boyfriends, I have had time to contemplate the silence of my home, and to make time to spend with my husband.

We have begun to re-discover each other, and have started spending more time together, either playing cards, or going on drives, watching football together, or just sitting up talking over a cup of coffee.

I have begun to realize that although one chapter of my life is closing, another one is opening as well. I will always be "Mom." I don't have to have girls competing over the bathroom mirror in my home, or folding their underwear, to still wear that title. As long as they need me, I will always be here for them.

But the beauty of it is, not only can I still be "Mom", I can have more time for being Mary. I can have more time to be a wife, an artist, a daughter to my aging parents, a sister, a friend, and occasionally, even a writer, when God gives me a word to encourage someone.

In Ecclesiastes 3, God's word states that to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heavens.

There is a time to raise children, and a time to let them go when they are ready.

Trusting in Him to help me prepare for the season of the empty nest.

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