The Lonely Nest

2429308118_eddf85f916_zI miss my kids. This is awkward because they’re probably reading this, but it must be said because the longing is strong today.

Lately I’ve been enjoying the quiet around here, so I thought maybe I was starting to get over missing my kids. But this week their loss came like cold wind seeping through a too-thin coat and left me lonely. All I wanted was us sitting around, laughing at the jokes only we find funny. I miss their warm presence and the life that pulses through the house when they’re here.

Who knows why these longings come when they do? Maybe it’s the gray weather. Maybe it’s because my traveler daughter is getting ready to go even farther away, to a third-world country where calling and texting aren’t reliable options. Maybe because my other dear ones aren’t coming home soon enough to suit me.

The thing is, they’re all doing exactly what I’d hoped they’d be doing at this stage of their lives. How is it possible to miss them so much and at the same time be happy they’re pursuing their dreams, away from here? I want them here, and yet I’m happy they’re not, because if they were it would mean they weren’t pursuing their own lives… all of which makes me grateful we humans have flexible hearts capable of feeling two polar opposite feelings at the same time.

My long-distance clasp of my kids is getting longer and distancy-er, and I’m ok with that. But in letting them go, I’ve realized that the sacrifices of parenting aren’t over. Through all the years of living a life that revolved around my kids, the upside was that I always had them with me. I’m finding that those sleepless baby nights, the constant shuttling to this practice and that activity, my 24/7 availability, has begun to look nostalgic in comparison to giving up my claim on my kids altogether. Which is what we have to do when they become adults.

My mom once told me that when it came to their adult children, she and Dad embraced the words of John 3:30: “He (they) must increase, and I must decrease.” John was speaking this of Jesus, but it holds true for anyone we love. In order for my kids to live their own lives, follow God’s purposes for themselves and find their paths, I’m getting out of the way. I’m moving from front-and-center coach to sideline cheerleader. Am I willing to do this with graciousness and joy, or am I going to hold onto them with two fists clenched tight?

So yes, the sacrifices of parenthood aren’t over. I suspect they’ll continue for a long while yet, and just when I feel like I have this down, I’ll become a grandparent and there will be new sacrifices to make (“You want us to babysit for the whole week? Uhhh, let me get back to you on that…”).

In the meantime, I’ll enjoy whatever role I get to play in my kids’ lives. Because I enjoy them so, so much, and that will never change.

Photo credit: Robert S. Donovan via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC


2 thoughts on “The Lonely Nest

  1. Apparently loneliness does not depend on the number of people around us, or, for that matter, how much they care. The aching separation we feel can sometimes only be assuaged by a particular person or persons. I know a lot about this. Unless Mom is close by I am lonely for her. I have accepted that all my children cannot live within a mile of home, but I still miss them.
    There was a day not too long ago when in the midst of loss, pain, confusion, and need my beloved daughter and granddaughter showed up in my hospital room. I was so glad to see them! It was like being washed in love. I was lonely for them, and them alone, and then there they were!
    Years ago when her mother and I delivered that daughter to her new life in far-away Ohio, we cried most of the way home – but the rewards of giving her away to God that day are still multiplying.
    I hold on to that knowledge all the time.


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