empty nest

There will come a day.

Darlene's three sons before they were grown men.

Darlene's three sons before they were grown men.

It was the kind of summer in Kentucky when the hot August day dies at the hands of its own heat and humidity. A sticky, sweaty two-year-old boy was nestled in the ring of a bathtub baby holder (no doubt long since designated as a death trap like so many other devices we were using in 1981) and I was plopped on the cool tile next to him. I distinctly remember thinking: I will be doing this for the rest of my life. Little did I know that within the next three years I would have two more boys placing me securely in what Sarah and I have termed THE MOB (mothers of boys). 

Now I’m a capable thinker and I knew in my MIND that I wouldn’t be doing that the rest of my life but at the time I couldn’t see past the long daily and rigorous chores of taking care of a two-year-old. HAD I known then that within the blink of what seemed like only a few more southern summers, I would be sitting next to a 33-year-old attorney with a high school, college, and post graduate career behind him I would have no doubt been more “in the moment” as the much maligned mantra proposes.

I’m filling in today for my sweet young friend, Sarah, who is in the throes (perhaps literally) of delivering her third boy into the world. There may come a day when she is surrounded by three little boys, ALL uncontrollably and inconsolably screaming at the same time, and think: this will never end. 

But there will come a day. 

There will be a day when the bake sales are behind you, the diapers are done with, the tears are more like mild traumas, the bikes are replaced by a banged-up VW Beetle, and the “what am I going to do with them!” translates to “what am I going to do without them?”

As one of my favorite author/mom types (Anna Quindlen) wrote some years ago, “It’s not simply the loss of these particular people, living here day in, day out, the bickering, the inside jokes, the cereal bowls in the sink and the towels in the hamper—all right, on the floor. It was who I was with them: the general to their battalion, the president to their cabinet.” 

When we inhabit motherhood we become someone new. When we hit the teenage years we become someone we may not like. When they leave us on our own, we become someone who feels loss but gains friends. 

Yeah, I know once a mom, always a mom. But there is a new joy in creating a relationship with your children that is based on a mutual history and perhaps a newfound respect. 

So young moms of the world, there WILL come a day when your full house morphs into an empty nest but believe me— the trip in between is SUCH a great ride!

Darlene Mazzone is a parent, publisher, and country girl in city shoes. She's the mother of three grown men and is the Executive Editor of PADUCAH LIFE Magazine, a feature magazine in Paducah, KY. She was the first healthcare public relations professional in West Kentucky, is in love with screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (it's OK, her husband knows all about it) and loves pasta, English novels, and of course, reruns of West Wing.