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In Praise of the Empty Nest - Short Story - Non-Fiction

Updated on January 23, 2015

In Praise of the Empty Nest

For some unexplained reason, this article came to mind when deciding what to post for the upcoming American celebration of the fourth of July.

I can only credit it to the realization that the house is once again ours. No one will be creeping down the stairs to gobble down the last piece of pie in the middle of the night. There is no need to lock the bedroom door to keep inquisitive youngsters from ruining an amorous moment and best of all, at least as far as I am concerned, the house just might stay cleaner.

Hum, perhaps there should be another look at the positive sides of the empty nest. That will have to be another article at another time.

As for now, Let Freedom Ring!

Empty Nest

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As the time drew near for my oldest daughter to gain her independence and leave home, my heart grew increasingly heavy. We had been close from the time of her birth. Her father was a military man, which meant he was absent from our lives a lot. I was barely twenty-one years old; she was just eleven months old, when we flew to Germany to join her father at his duty station. This would be our home for the next three and a half years. So there we were, in a very strange place on the other side of the world, far from family, friends, and all things familiar. It seemed only natural that we would form such a close bond.

I’ll never forget, some years later and back in the United States, the night I found her crying in her bed. I asked her what was wrong; she rolled over, sat up, and wrapped her arms around my neck. Through tears she said, “I don’t ever want to leave you mommy. When I grow up can I live in the house next door?” My heart turned to mush and I was crying too. I assured her she could indeed live in the house next door.

It seemed like the blink of an eye and we were planning a wedding, and preparing to send her two states and 600 miles away. What happened to living in the house next door? I didn't think I could stand it.

Oddly enough, as the wedding day neared, I realized that it was time for her to make her own way; to make her own home and her own family. I was proud of her independence and strength. I knew I had done all I could as a parent; now it was time to watch her spread her wings and fly. To watch her grow as an adult fills my heart with pride and joy.

My son came into this world under difficult circumstances. He had breathing problems that kept him in neonatal ICU for two days before I could see him or hold him. That pretty much set the tone for the next eighteen years. I went through torturous nights with a colicky screaming baby; teething brought more crying and screaming. Eventually we found out that he had underdeveloped eustachian tubes that caused him terrible ear pain and vertigo. Something he would outgrow . . . in time. He was fifteen months old before he could walk . . . well run, and he hasn’t stopped yet. School was never his strength; he was more interested in fine tuning his social skills than boosting his grade point average. The day he graduated from high school, I felt like I had graduated along with him. The day he graduated from basic training I was a very proud mom. He had left the nest a confused and ill prepared adolescent, but now stood before me a grown man.

My baby was fourteen years younger than her older sister, and eleven years younger than her brother; so, I knew I had a while before it was her time to leave the nest. What I didn’t know was how much my life would change before she approached independence. I went through a divorce, landed a full time job, graduated from college, and found a new husband. My baby stuck by me through all the dark storms and sunny days. I thought it would be the most painful experience when she pulled out of the driveway and headed off to college, and I’ll have to admit I did shed a few tears. Then I sighed.

A few days after she was gone I heard my husband yell “FREEDOM!” at the top of his lungs.

I thought he must be doing an impersonation of Mel Gibson’s “Brave Heart” for some reason, until I walked into the living room. There he stood, at the top of the stairs, stark naked!

“What in heaven’s name are you doing?” I asked in shock.

“Enjoying the empty nest,” he replied, wearing only a grin.

I stood pondering his statement for a moment before I started pulling off my shoes and socks.

Freedom indeed!


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    • miss_jkim profile image

      miss_jkim 7 years ago

      Thank you Alayne,

      Sounds like your mom and dad are handling the empty nest with gusto! Good for them!!

      My kids have made my life absolutely full and wonderful, and I love sharing their individuality and unique qualities.

    • Alayne Fenasci profile image

      Alayne Fenasci 7 years ago from Louisiana

      When I left home, I still had siblings ages 12, 6, and 4. Mom and Daddy were still plenty busy with kids. Last month, my youngest sister went away to college, and my mom was dreading it. I think she's enjoying it some though... she got herself a Camero and is planning a trip with my dad to Disney World -- WITHOUT the caravan of children.

      I love the stories about each of your children. They each have such an individual story. Great piece.

    • miss_jkim profile image

      miss_jkim 7 years ago


      I have found that the closer each child has gotten to leaving the nest, something clicks in and I know in my heart it was time for them to go.

      That has made it easier and given us the peace to enjoy our "empty nest."

      That being said, as a mother, we never quit worring about them. They do come back though, they know where home is.

      Thanks for your comment.

    • LadyWriter profile image

      LadyWriter 7 years ago from UK

      Lovely Hub - my son will soon be choosing which Uni to go to, he's currently away in South Africa for a few weeks and I miss him terribly. I'm dreading when he goes to Uni because maybe he'll never come back to live with us again. My hubby is like yours he thinks it's great having the house to ourselves.

    • miss_jkim profile image

      miss_jkim 7 years ago

      My heart breaks for you Nell. I can now see the depth from which your poetry is written.

      From my own experiences, writing is great therapy and helps us through the healing process.

      I look forward to reading more of your writings.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      The most recent experience of my own life is the empty nest created by the death of my beloved husband. He was in poor health and I was his care-giver. At times it was difficult. But I often talk to him now and beg him return and to stay as long as possible. I would gladly have him here now.

      But it is a new vantage point and I have never resisted change and the present time and what it provides, so I also am keeping my eyes focused on it. This was a good article and I appreciate your writing it.

    • miss_jkim profile image

      miss_jkim 7 years ago

      Thank you for your input gree tea-cher. I am embracing my new found freedom and enjoying it immensely.

      Thank you for becoming one of my followers, I lookforwear to your input.

    • green tea-cher profile image

      green tea-cher 7 years ago

      I love your honesty in this hub. I think it is great that after investing many years raising your children, that you have the "freedom" to celebrate your independence once again, however you like! By the way, welcome to hub pages! I look forward to more of your hubs.

    • miss_jkim profile image

      miss_jkim 7 years ago

      Thanks billy, yes I am still quite close to my children, though they are all grown and live in different parts of the world.

      My "freedom" has given me a lot of time to explore different paths for my life; one of which is my blogging and writing which, I love.

    • billyaustindillon profile image

      billyaustindillon 7 years ago

      A lovely story it must be a bittersweet feeling - sad that your loved ones are gone but sweet that you finally have your house to your self to do what you want. You have a lovely bond with your family that came through your writing - freedom in so many ways. :)