Some moms cry when their kids start kindergarten. Some moms feel lost, maybe even suffer an identity crisis. They long to keep their baby birds in the nest. Return them to shells where they can incubate safely beneath soft feathers.
Some moms twist and shout silently in their heads. Five years, baby!!! I’ve fed your sticky beak for five years! I’ve flown around looking for bugs and worms and now, it’s my turn. I’m NOT sitting at home watching Spongebob!
I used to think poorly about the twist and shout moms. How can they be so uncaring toward their little cherubs? Their vulnerable baby birds?
College is looming for my kids and don’t think for one minute that I am not reminded on a daily basis. The application process, the nine million fees for each packet, what to declare as a major, what dorm is the best, is there time for a sorority and sports.
A mom and dad came into my workplace to buy clothes the other day after depositing their oldest daughter to her first year at Georgetown University. They were giddy and laughing and flirting with one another while picking out clothes and trying them on. They spent over three thousand dollars that day.
“What’s the special occasion? You guys look so happy!” I asked.
“Our daughter is starting college. One kid down, two to go!” they answered.
“Congratulations! Are you getting these sweaters for your daughter?” I asked.
They both chuckled loudly. I even heard a snort.
“No! She can buy her own sweaters. But you won’t see her. She can’t afford this place as a college student.” answered the Dad.
Wow, I liked this Dad.
“So, you must be experiencing many changes in your home. Is it difficult to send your daughter into the real world?” I asked.
“College isn’t the real world, and no, it isn’t difficult. It is rather peaceful now that one kid is out of the house.” said the mom.
Clearly, these people were twist and shouters and hated Spongebob.
“I have teenage daughters. I’m not sure how I will react to them leaving for college.” I said while swiping their credit card and wrapping their clothes neatly in tissue paper.
“You’ll be ready. I used to think parents who rejoiced when their kids left home were insensitive and mean. That was before I raised teenagers. Trust me, kids going away for college is a healthy thing. For everyone.” said the Mom.
“You aren’t the first to tell me that. I will find out soon enough!” I thanked them and watched them skip joyfully out the door.
Later I went home, back to my nest and thought about the happy couple as I ate dinner with my family.
Sometimes my heart sighs when thinking of the empty nest. I won’t lie. Our nest can be messy and imperfect. The birds do not always chirp in unison. Little birds spread their wings and often leave mama bird flustered and ruffled. Sometimes, I wake in the middle of the night worrying about the choices my little birds will make, knowing their consequences will come from life rather than Maverick and me. It doesn’t help when my own mother, who raised four birds, tells me that worrying increases ten fold when kids leave home.
I’m a big believer in listening when God speaks in seemingly random ways. I’m confident my kids will grow, flourish, and do well when they go to college. I’m also confident that God sent the happy parents into my workplace the other day to remind me to think positively. It is okay to be a twist and shouter. It doesn’t mean I don’t love my kids.
And I think it means I get a three thousand dollar shopping spree as the nest empties, too.