©1999 by Susan Noyes Anderson
Motherhood has been at once the most satisfying and challenging experience of my life, and being a mom is pretty much where I live. This poem came my way over a decade ago, when I was feeling the pain of transitioning from center hub of my children’s wheels to one of the outer spokes. Happy as I was to see them coming into their own, growing and flourishing as the young adults I’d always hoped they might be, I was bereft at the loss of their physical presence and energy in my life. Emotionally, my role as chief nurturer, counselor, and caregiver was rapidly morphing into something that hadn’t taken shape yet––and I wasn’t quite sure what it was––or even if I would like it. What I did know is that I was bewildered, saddened, and more than a little bit lost.
Years have passed, and today I am no longer bewildered. I can honestly say that I get it. I know my place, and I know that I have a place…a vital place…in the lives and hearts of my children. But it’s still bittersweet, at times. Now and again, the empty chairs around the kitchen table begin calling the names of their former occupants, eager to be filled. On such days, the bright, repurposed bedrooms look a touch too organized…the sparkling, uncluttered pool a tad too pristine. When nostalgia really grips me, I even miss the mad cacophony of music and mayhem that assaulted my ears nearly every waking moment of our lives together.
Apparently, the empty nest is a syndrome from which I will never entirely recover. My life has many good things in it, fulfilling things––not the least of which is my wonderful husband-–but none of these quite fills the space or satisfies the longing for those golden days when every one of our children lived under one roof…when our family was always complete, not just in emotional bonding but in physical proximity.
I really do get it. My role has evolved. On almost every level, this pleases me.
But it pains me, too, and that’s the truth of it.
You have an amazing gift with words!
I am at the beginning of that change of position, and I understand your joy/pain!
Perhaps that is what drives us, as it does our Heavenly Father, to ultimately have “no empty chairs!”
Thank you for a beautiful post — one I’ll bookmark for those empty-feeling days! 🙂
My mother in law has been repeating to me all week, “These are the golden years when they (my young children) still want and need you.” I can’t tell you Sue how much your poem toched me. I need to live more in the moment now.
This has been my favorite week at Mormon Woman because of the motherhood series.
This is a beautifully worded reminder that we shouldn’t wish away any phase of our lives. When our children are young and there are diapers to change and endless laundry, it’s easy to wish those years away. Yet, as mother’s, being surrounded by our children is where it’s at. Though I look forward to certain aspects of empty-nesting, more quality time with my husband for one, I am mostly dreading the day when my children are all gone.
You are the only one I’ve read (or heard) who has actually admitted that nothing will ever quite compare again to when the kids were all home. That is just how I feel and yet, I don’t admit it either. There is so much good in my life now, and I am enjoying the freedom to a point, but the days when they were all home, were the happiest and most fulfilling of my life.
Truly beautiful Sue. I had to share on my FB….hope you don’t mind. Hugs,
What a beautiful poem. You are blessed with a lot of talent sweet lady. Thank you, for sharing. Hugs and Happy Mother’s Day
I echo your sentiments in many ways – it’s taken me so long not to feel “homesick” every day with the absence of my childrens physical presence. Now I live for their emails, phone calls and find I gain immeasurable support from them these days as they frequently share comments that uplift me.
Love your thoughts . . .
I love this, and I love your honesty. I feel those tugs already, and it’s wonderful and difficult all at once. I love watching my children become more of their own people, but I ache at the realization that the day is swiftly coming that they will be on their own.