"The season has shifted and changed so I let go of what I am used to and walk bravely into the unknown because I know God is right beside me with each step." ~ A Modern Day Ruth
It's hard to believe Johnny and I are looking at the beginning of a brand new season in our lives. We've been married nearly 21 years now, have raised two amazing kids, beat cancer and built a life together. After all the years of changing diapers, wiping faces, putting Joshua and Micah on the bus, helping with homework and watching them go from training wheels to driving cars of their own we're looking at life through the other side of the looking glass. Our once little boys are now grown men. One has already graduated and the other is soon to say goodbye to high school. College is not a hope anymore but a reality and the military is no longer a dream but a real possibility. The talk of first apartments and road trips without us have become the norm and just like that our boys have grown into men. Our children, our two little boys are more than well on their own way to lives and adventures of their own. Johnny and I are no longer just beginning our family anymore. No, instead we're getting ready to downgrade our nest and send our boys off into the world with wings of their own.
It's funny how things change. I mean when Johnny and I were first married we thought we had all the time in the world to grow old together, to have a family and watch our children grow up. Going from a family of three to a family of four was as natural as spring turning into summer. We dreamed, made plans and in just a little over two decades saw our life together bloom from a sapling into a tall, steady oak. What we didn't understand then, at least at first was how rapidly children grow and how fast time flies. The truth is the empty nest comes quickly, too quickly. Suddenly your children are leaving home, deciding what direction to take on their own and introducing you to the love of their lives. The honest to goodness truth is, "No one tells you that the hardest part of being a parent is when your children grow up." I have to admit the beauty of looking through this side of the looking glass is seeing what amazing people our children have truly become. In the years since childhood, we're no longer holding our child's hands anymore, instead we're letting them go on their own, trusting Proverbs 22:6 is true? "Teach a child to choose the right path, and when he is older, he will remain upon it."
Johnny and I are ready, I think anyway. I don't know if you're ever fully ready to let go but if you have prepared your children, encouraged them, provided them unconditional love and given them over to the Lord then they themselves will be ready when the day arrives even if you're not. I can't say we're looking forward to an empty nest, but I do believe we're curious as to what adventures are waiting for us on the other side of life. Seriously, we may actually spend a week at Disney World all by ourselves eating ice cream, speeding through Space Mountain and staying up late riding the Monorail. On the flip side you could say we're excited to see what life has in store for our boys, to see where it takes them. "To raise a child who is comfortable enough to leave means you've done your job. They are not ours to keep, but to teach how to soar on their own."
Life on the other side, becoming empty nesters is actually a pretty good place to be. That is after you get over the shock of being old enough to actually have an empty nest anyway. Honestly I do miss when our boys were little, the way they reached up for us, holding our faces in their hands and calling us mommy and daddy. I'd give anything to go back, just for a day BUT life doesn't work that way. Life moves ever forward. We must let go and embrace the here and now we share with our children. And so the truth of Life Lesson #118 ~ The Other Side of Life is this: Life is an amazing adventure. The empty nest believe me it is coming. We can't hold back time but we're learning life on this side of the looking glass is still beautiful with just as many amazing moments all wrapped up in the bittersweet. Joseph Cambell says it wonderfully, "We must be willing to let go of the life we've planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us." So I say this to all of us crossing over into the Autumn of our lives, live in this moment, enjoy the possibilities, talk with your children, spend time listening to them and then celebrate with our children. Give them their freedom, their independence and the ability to travel on their journey. Hard as it may be it's time to let them fly, making sure they know you'll be there when they need you. I have come to this conclusion, the empty nest is not something to agonize over, though it is not easy. No the empty nest, and stepping over into the other side of life should be thought of as Winnie the Pooh does when he lets Christopher Robin go, leaving the Hundred Acre Woods, "How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard." And that is the truth isn't it?
After all, "Learning is their journey. Let them navigate. Push them to explore.Watch them discover. Encourage their questions. Allow them to struggle. Support their thinking.Then let them fly." ` Anonymous