Thursday, January 21, 2010

In Defense of a Full Nest

On vacation this summer in Cape Charles on the Chesapeake Bay. Wish the nest could have been fuller.
I don’t like my empty nest! I’ve been through this once before, when our foster daughter married in 1990 after being with me and my husband for seven tumultuous but thoroughly enjoyable years. The house seemed as empty as an abandoned museum, and, though it is a tiny Cape Cod, I heard echoes from every footfall. Within several months, we were trying to start a new family. When the home-grown method failed, we got on the adoption bandwagon and by 1997 had packed our little place with three beautiful children from India. Now, all of them—our daughter and two sons—are grown; the elder two are married and our younger son is a junior in college.

Am I looking at the years we raised them through rose-colored glasses? Perhaps. However, I know that I much prefer the schedule of homework, family dinnertime, soccer games, Sunday school, and 10 loads of laundry a week to the order and relative quiet of my present routine. Despite the financial and physical stresses that came along with the children, there is no one moment of experience that has ever made me happier than coming in the door and seeing my husband sitting at the kitchen table with the children, school books open and the casserole I prepared before work bubbling in the oven.

I am convinced that the Empty Nest Syndrome, as many couples experience it in our modern, contraception-oriented society, is not what God had in mind when he created the family. In the natural course of things, children follow somewhat predictably upon the wedding, and in most families continue to arrive over more than a decade, perhaps two. The oldest siblings in a large family are able to help as the younger ones come along, are out the door when their younger brothers and sisters are still in grade school (or toddling), and return with their own children before long before the parental home is emptied of children. In this scheme of things, the nest gets fuller and fuller, rather than dismally empty.

In the happiest of homes I have seen, the full nest accommodates three or four generations of family members, each generation fulfilling its roles and responsibilities toward each of the others: the grandparents to dispense wisdom, the mother and father to provide and maintain the home, the children to learn, grow, and help each other, and the grandchildren simply to delight everyone else.

1 comment:

Dan said...

Hi Chris - love the picture.
La Familia - what its all about.