Empty nest and empty nesters. We know what these mean. The first, a house, which had children at one time, now, without children. The second, the parents of said grown and departed children.
When I was seven months pregnant with our first child, my husband and I decided to move from our small apartment to a house. I say, decided. The truth is that a more experienced co-worker looked around our one-bedroom and said, “You’re going to have a baby in here?!” She might as well have said, “You idiots know nothing about parenting. Quickly, get yourselves more space.”
We bought a house a block away from that apartment. We loved the neighborhood. We’d lived in our apartment for three years. We lived in the house for twenty-two years. Our children grew up in that house. They invented games in the wide, carpeted stairwell. They played in its small, urban yard. They climbed the catalpa tree on its alley up to the next door garage roof. They slammed its doors when they were angry. They broke a couple of windows—one when rough-housing, the other with a baseball. We ate thousands of meals in the huge kitchen. We slept thousands of nights in those big bedrooms. We lounged with books and television for thousands of hours in the bright playroom. We loved that old house.
For several reasons, we moved this summer to a house built in 2013. The house is a tad smaller than our 1904, but each child has a bedroom. We’ve downsized only a little. (We did take 20 carloads of stuff to Goodwill and send three pickup-truckfuls to the dump.) But our most notable loss will be of the younger generation.
I became a mother in the old house. In this one, I will become a crone. Or am I too young? For three months I’ve seen nothing of my period. Along with my younger child heading off to college and our bold move to a modern house, my body is marking all these changes with its own. No more babies for me. Not that I was planning any. The eggs are gone and no further will be laid. This is an emptying nest.