Memorial Day weekend was the first time in six months that my partially empty nest was full again.
My oldest came home to visit for the long weekend. I hadn’t seen him since he was last home in December. He lives in Wisconsin and we haven’t had a chance to go out there to visit him, nor has he had the opportunity to come home, until that weekend.
We didn’t do anything exciting and that almost made it even more special. Just the normalcy of him being at home, along with my middle son being home from college, and my youngest son in the mix – made it perfect. Watching them all together and seeing the older two intentionally spend time hanging out with my youngest was enough to satisfy me (for at least another month or two!).
It became clear to me that the three of them spending time with each other was even more of a joy than having their attention for myself.
They played games, they teased each other, they laughed, they taunted and they harassed one another – just like their younger years together growing up.
They encouraged, complimented and showed their uniquely individual signs of affection for each other. More than they used to. I think as they’ve gotten older, they are beginning to understand how important family is. Maybe they are even ready to acknowledge how rare their time all together is becoming these days.
The magical revelation that they missed each other more than they expected or would care to admit was golden for me.
This is the stuff that matters.
The time they get to spend together becomes far and few between in these years as they forge their independence.
For me, the family dynamic of being all together in our “full nest” provides a special kind of peace and happiness. For me it means no worries about where they are and how they are. They are right here. Safe and sound. Under my roof.
My usual nearly empty nest has a different vibe. It’s not a bad vibe, but it is definitely not the same. I enjoy having my youngest home alone to (finally) be the primary focus of what’s left of my parenting energy.
But the myriad of relationships is missing. The comfort of knowing how the out-of-nesters are doing at any given time is distant. Hearing the casual banter and camaraderie (and underlying affection) amongst the people I love most in this world is missing.
I hope that in the coming years they will always make time to see each other. More than simply meeting up for a few short hours to share a holiday dinner or celebratory occasion. I hope they will plan vacations and trips to gather and spend casual unwind time all together.
It is in those more prolonged and relaxed times that meaningful reconnections happen.
Growing up, my mother would always remind us that family came first, it was forever and being family was a bond that could never be erased, broken or forgotten.
So they are brothers. Forever.
It turns out the fleeting joy of the temporarily full nest is not so fleeting at all. The bonds made in the nest will remain. With or without me. That concept is so extraordinarily gratifying.
As the all together weekend came to an end, knowing they have had time together makes my heart full and my once again partially empty nest so much more acceptable.