The nest- the first gathering place, a safe fortress from the world. An incubator for growth and development in a protected environment. At one time they are all planted in the bottom of the nest, looking up for the next worm, for direction and guidance. Next they stand up and peek over the edge, then spread and prepare their own wingspan for a soon to be flight into freedom and responsibility. Then one flies away and is soaring fairly well- comes back for winter breaks and summer rejuvenation. All the while, others are clambering to get their turn, dangling over the edge, making your heart stop. Still some are sprouting before your eyes, slowly moving past things of the youngest, creeping into wavering definitions of self and others while exploring bigger boundaries. All of this is beautiful and wonderful, part of a master plan.
I have always been amused by the saying that describes parenting as “the longest days and the shortest years” and I can attest: it is true my friends, so true. I have been blessed with children that are all about 5 years apart in school and age, give or take a few months. As you can imagine, at any given time, our household has children that are all on different levels of the human development spectrum. It makes for a wildly diverse emotional landscape at times. It also makes the mind, heart, and soul expand to see how we grow and interact within our own little village in the home and the world as a whole. It is fascinating! Until you get lost in the little, the tiny, the insignificant. And the crazy thing is, those things that are little, tiny, and insignificant one day, become microscopic as the days move ahead and pages of the calendar turn faster.
At this point in time I have one in college, one in high school, and one in elementary school. Tomorrow the “baby” will be turning 10- double digits baby!! It is wonderful- and it is bittersweet. You see, I don’t expect an empty nest. With the oldest and youngest almost 10 years apart, I expect it to be quieter, but never silent. And time will still tell… But, I am surprised at myself, surprised at how hard it is to have my youngest little reach milestones that leave no more. You know, the feeling you get when your first, second, and on up reach a milestone- the first smile, giggle, tooth, step, bike ride, lead role, etc. THAT feeling- it is that feeling except in reverse. I have no more who are in diapers (yay!) no more in kindy, no more writing in cursive for the first time. In fact, some of my firsts are no more. But, I embrace it (and some days mourn it)!
So tomorrow I am going to enjoy the celebration, it may be the last of my single digit aged kiddos, but it won’t be the last birthday celebration. There will be many more to come, maybe leaving some “firsts” behind, but certainly opening up wide the gates for many more “firsts” on the horizon. My nest may be emptier, but my life is growing fuller as I seek to discover the place my heart feels content- enjoying the memories, focusing and living in the present, anticipating tomorrow, all the while embracing every part.
Fully embracing every part.