Interminable quiet bears witness to my house's 327-pound weight loss this week:  my children are scattered like birds leaving the nest.

Like the paradox of deafening silence, their absence is more conspicuous than their presence.  Almost.

It's a gift, the half-full glass tells me. Just as Clarence demonstrated to George Bailey that never having been born would've meant the detriment–even death!–of those he loves most, and how Cash gave Jack Campbell a "glimpse" of what his life would've been like had he made other choices, I've had a "taste". 

It's the same, only different. 

DSC_4045 Rather than a backwards glance over my shoulder, however, my Capra-esque vision has been a peek into the future.  Life as an empty nester.  

Sweet mercy, just a mention of those two words sends shivers down my spine and has me running through my house, screeching like a banshee, flailing my arms over my head like I'm running from a swarm of angry hornets!  Not because my children will be gone, but because I'm old enough for my children to be gone.

Just kidding…sorta.

It's only been four days–hardly enough time even to miss them, but the second time I've been without all of them this summer–and yet, I've discovered a few random insights into this season of life…

~ Laundry becomes not only manageable, it's a completable task.

~ Once again, I'm reminded we're raising our children for someone else. 

~ Taking baby steps (or sometimes giant leaps) towards independence will serve them well in college, work, ministry, marriage, family. 

~  I'm thankful they're secure enough to leave home, to have a good time apart from us. 

~ Remembering I was a wife before I before I became a mom. 

The funny thing is I thought I recognized…understood…lived that last one.  But being alone with my husband for an extended period of time in our house?  It's very different from being alone together for a romantic getaway. 

It's daily.  It's not a celebration of anything in particular.  And though I don't think we've ever been accused of being "child-directed" parents, I realize how much their lives and activities determine how our family spends time (together or apart, when we have to be two or three places at the same time). 

It's hard to believe we've been married almost 22 years!  We know each others' stories, we anticipate how each other thinks, and yes, we can often complete each others' sentences.

And, dear me–recently we even matched when we met a friend for dinner!  As we stepped out of the car, I realized we both had on black shirts and jeans (mine were capris, thankfully his were not).  I sent that as a text to my daughter and she replied, "Mom, if you did it on purpose i am NOT coming home hahahahahaha! love you and bless ur heart."  It was definitely a "bless your heart" moment. 

My "glimpse" has made me aware that marriages–our marriage–needs to be nurtured; there needs to be intention coincident to loving action.

We learned that turning on the television is a death blow to romance.  We've relaxed into each other and talked (interestingly, rarely about our kids).  We played Scrabble.  He watched golf, I watched my laptop. 

Ebb and flow…give and take….

A glimpse into our future. 

Today is my middle child's 15th birthday; how can I feel such joy and reluctance in the same celebration?

Two of the three return today.  I look forward to this reunion, knowing in advance I missed them more than they missed me.  I'm okay with that.  Beyond watching the Lord at work in and through my children, there is no greater success to me as a parent, than for my children to to delight in the lives they live both with us and apart from us.  

And I smile to think the empty nest still has room for two.

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