Our nest emptied. Our children went to college, were getting married and making their way in the world. I thought my job was over. It was an empty feeling. I truly enjoyed my children’s growing up years. I loved being a mom. I had taken a journey with my children as they grew up. While my sons were learning about life, how to make difficult decisions, the difference between right and wrong, I was guiding, teaching, and telling them everything I thought they needed to know.
On the flip side of that. My children taught me more than I ever taught them. My sons taught me patience and what unconditional love are. Then they began asking the difficult questions. Is there a God? What happens when we die? What to do when your friend wants to do something that you’re not comfortable doing? This caused me to confront my own beliefs. I knew what I had been told as a child, but if I was going to honest with my children, I needed to believe what I told them.
Not Enough Time
Meanwhile, time marched along and before I had time to tell my oldest son everything that he was going to need to know we were taking him to college. We helped him move into the dorm and were preparing to travel 400 miles back home – without him. Standing on the curb outside his dorm, I gave my son a big hug. My last words to him were, “We didn’t raise an idiot. So, don’t prove us wrong.”
That statement was more about me than it was about him. He had never done anything but make us proud. But he and I both knew, it was all up to him now. And I just hadn’t had enough time to prepare him for this moment.
The Empty Nest Became a Bridge
Now I’m lying in a bed in my son and daughter-in-law’s home. I’m waiting for my granddaughter to come sneaking into my room. I pretend to be asleep. “Nana, Nana,” she whispers.
I role over and smile. “Good Morning, sweetie. Want to climb in?”
I lift the covers and she climbs into bed. We snuggle and she asks me to tell her a story about her daddy when he was a boy. This is the best way to start a day! Over time I run out of stories about her dad. I start telling her stories about my growing up years, her great grand mother and her great, great grandmother. I found myself describing to my granddaughter, who is growing up with cell phones and iPads about covered wagons and outhouses. She looked at me like I was off my rocker. “Is that true?” She asked.
That’s when I realized my nest had become a bridge. A bridge between the generations. It’s not my job to prepare my grandchildren for life. It is my job to share with them what we believe and why. To share experiences and tell stories that inform and inspire the next generation.