Empty nest, yes. Empty heart, no. Letter to a Son.

images-1 Empty nest, yes.  Empty heart, no.  Letter to a Son

Below is an older post, but over this Mother’s Day weekend, I’m enjoying memories and experiencing joy that motherhood has been part of my life–the very best part. And even though the nest is empty, my heart is not.

I live in an empty nest, one way to say it; empty hollow house, another way. We were capacious with four bedrooms, now we are lousy with them and closing off heating vents and doors during the winter. Are my husband and I lonely? No, not really. Our schedules are more varied and that’s fun. We eat out on a whim. We can cancel an entire Saturday if we want to—read, watch films, hide away. But it’s truly amazing and fun when the house fills up again with warm, human bodies who lug laundry in with them, run the shower constantly, and scatter various exotic foods and drinks around the kitchen. I mean at some level don’t we all miss that?

Our youngest is our son, a senior in college. I recently found a letter I had written to him just before he left for college. We had some argument and he was unable to talk to me about it—thus the letter. Rereading it, I felt the echoes of so much tugging and struggling that occurs when children step out the door and become adults—almost overnight—that I thought to share it. We boomers are aging, our children are aging—and yet we eternally have these strong bonds and life experiences that weld us together, regardless of the change consuming us; and yes, we must adjust to it.

The letter read:

Dear Son,

I never mean to hurt you. Let’s talk about this. What is this argument about? You are rarely home and soon you will not be here at all. Isn’t that what it’s about? The parting?

Your one sister likes to say to me, during a disagreement or discussion: It’s not about you.  Well then who is any argument about? Is it about you? Is it about me? No, it’s about us. 

For the first time since the 20th of July, 1974, your father and I will be without a child. For every minute and second of those years it was mostly me thinking about caring for a child—some one of you. And I loved it. Now it is ending. Yes, you will still need me at some level—but let’s get real; this time it’s over.

So I am thinking about all the drives to high school, to jazz class, to sax class, to parties, to Boy Scouts—all the morning drives to grade school. And back when we were in Chicago, all the trips to ice skating and preschool and Kindergarten and the store. All the play in the sun room or the family room. The nights we bunked in together. All the picture books we read. The time you broke your arm. The time you had your moles removed. The Christmas mornings. The Easter mornings. The vacations. My God, it’s a lifetime. A brilliant often breathtaking lifetime.

So any emotion here is not about me, about you, it’s about US. It’s about this new twist in our lives and how to deal with it. The twist might put an ache in my heart, but it should put a spring in your step as you move onto the planet as a single person making your own judgments and being responsible for your own self.

But please: call me now and then. Do your laundry. Keep up with your homework. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Eat right. Stay warmly dressed. And ENJOY EVERYTHING—meeting new friends, exploring new places virtual, geographic, mental, and finding a professor who might drop a new universe of knowledge at your feet. Listen. Open yourself.  It’s called growth. It’s yours to have. The University of Iowa is a wonderful place, full of opportunity. Grab it, savor it.

You will have to get a part-time job at some point. We need to talk about that. You will have to utilize your time wisely. This is all part of becoming an adult. And you will make a great one.

Don’t give up on your music. Yes, I want you to be able to support yourself, but I want you to dive down deeply into that creative place inside you and work it. Write those lyrics or poetry. Work on those riffs. Don’t give up on that, please.

Dad might say stay focused. And that’s fine. I will say, OPEN UP AND LOOK AROUND!

You might see something you didn’t know was there. Something amazing that will carry you into the rest of your life.

Good luck and blessings,


Dear Readers–thanks for being here. Thanks for supporting my blog. I now can offer you a little bit more of me–just in time for Mother’s Day. My first published book, A Mother’s Time Capsule–stories to enjoy at the end of the day, 13 of them, maybe one a night for 2 weeks. And enjoy with a piece of chocolate!

Check out:  www.elizabethahavey.com — all the links are there.

Images: Tumblr; Slate.com