An Honest Letter from a Mother Bird in Her Empty Nest

If you would have tapped me on the shoulder in the midst of raising sons while PCSing every 2-3 years and said, “Honey, these days will fly by,” I would have thought you were just plain nuts.

As a busy military mom, the seasons of my life consisted of changing diapers, helping with school projects, managing weekend activities, bandaging knees and elbows, feeding hungry teenagers, assisting with driving lessons, scheduling orthodontist appointments, and gathering college applications.

Yep, it was twenty-five years of the wildest ride of my life.

Time seemed to stand still. Looking back, I realize I was just too busy to appreciate the hands of the ticking clock because mine were watching three little boys. It’s hard for me not to tear up thinking about those days.

Like a momma bird teaching her babies to fly, mine left the nest to fulfill hopes, dreams, and passions. One by one, with a big hug, they smiled at me and spread their wings. Would I like to catch them in flight and bring each one back to the safety of our home? Absolutely. Would they grow into the men they were destined to be if I did? Probably not.

Recently, I realized this next season of my life can be a beautiful one. Sure I cried many tears and shamefully envied peers who still had kids at home. I also took long walks to clear my head from the emptiness I suddenly felt.

Sometimes, it just wasn’t a pretty scene and I felt like a complete hot mess.

My sweet husband would hold me in his arms and whisper in my ear, “It will be okay…” I knew deep inside I had to let go of the past and embrace the present. Like Robinson Crusoe, I became eager to discover some uncharted mystery of who I was after the nest was empty of little birds.

As military spouses, we know a good bulk of our time is spent running a household. We tear one down and unpack it every few years. We arrange doctors, dentists, school records, transcripts, and remind our children they will make friends at every duty station.

We count down the days to see our military service members come home from deployments and learn to appreciate even the simple things spent together. We say good-bye to jobs, coworkers, and precious friendships.

Deep in our hearts, we know our nests will change with every new set of orders, but the individuals inside remain precious. Whether they are near or far, the heart is what keeps it full.

Seasons will come and go, our children grow up, and our military spouses will eventually retire or leave active-duty. One important thing we must always cling to is embracing every day with a fresh, new perspective. This is a big world of amazing opportunities within our reach. Do you feel that tap on your shoulder? It’s me, saying, “Honey, these days will fly by, but new ones are waiting on the horizon!”

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