September 8, 2016
The following is my weekly letter to the Bishop Chatard parent community:
I recently had a conversation with a friend about what she called the “seasons of life.” We were looking back on our lives with a perspective that could only come with experience.
She recalled what I had shared with the parents at Commencement last May on the topic of becoming an empty nester. What I said was, “It’s awesome!”
Her son just left for college a couple of weeks ago, and she and her husband are empty nesters for the first time. She said, “I’m not there with awesome yet. I miss having him around.”
My comments on graduation night reflected my season of life. I have four kids and over the course of time Carol and I experienced an empty nest off and on for years. They were all gone, and then one of the kids was between houses and asked to move back home. Another got engaged, so what better way to save money than to move in with mom and dad for a while? So, when all the kids were officially gone (fingers crossed), it was awesome. It brought a new season of life that allowed Carol and I to have some time for ourselves – to nurture our marriage and focus on us.
My friend was entering a new season of life as well. It was the season during which the empty nest could be a lonely place. There was a void left by her son as he headed off to college to start his new season of life.
The reason this topic resonates so strongly for me is because of what Carol and I have experienced in the last week:
- Last Thursday, my son Rick and his wife Whitney welcomed their second child into the world.
- On Saturday, my son Robby married his longtime girlfriend, Sam.
- Tuesday night, my daughter Mary gave birth to her second child with husband Matt at her side.
We passed through a season of life (maybe two seasons) in just six days! With each event, the reflective questions came: We are not old enough to be the grandparents of six, are we? Is that our baby boy up there getting married? Didn’t we just walk him into pre-school last week? Memories and nostalgia rushed over us this week. That’s OK, as long as we do not linger in the past.
The problem with spending too much time looking in our rear view mirror is that we miss what is in front of us right now. The good old days were good, but not because they were better days than today. They were good old days because we were full participants. We didn’t stand on the sideline and watch; we jumped in and embraced what was going on.
That is the lesson Carol and I have learned. Each new season of life will bring its share of sadness and joy. Both need to be experienced. Don’t miss out; embrace each moment of each new season.