31 Days of the Almost Empty Nest: The Not-Alone Alone

Before Jeffrey was born I worried love would become a thin vellum. His brother wasn’t quite yet two and he would stick his plump lips up against my belly and say, “Little Jeffrey, come out and pway wif me!” I wondered how I could possibly love another little being this much. Wasn’t all of my love spoken for?

But when he came, with his blues eyes, those dimples, that crazy hair … I learned the truth. Love really is the only thing you receive more of when you give it away. Love was voluminous, pages and pages of stories filled with moments of proof, evidence of love’s supernatural increase written into our days.

A house built on love gives when most of life takes. I tried to explain this to Jeffrey the other day. “If your dad and I do one thing well, I hope it is loving you. When a child knows he or she is loved, it changes the way they look at themselves. It changes the way they look at the world.” We talked about love as a foundation and how, when a child has the security of love to return to, he or she will carry that out into the world—give freely out of love expecting nothing in return.

Sometimes, life can squeeze that out of a person, that soft beginning. But when one is planted in love from the start, it becomes a way to resilience, a way of seeing.

The other night, when he returned from band practice long after the sun had set, Jeffrey walked in the house and came straight to me. We were alone for the evening, just the two of us, as often happens in the almost-empty nest. He sat down beside me on the couch, his shoulder touching mine, and laced one of his legs over mine on the ottoman. Then he started texting all his friends, with me but not quite. This happens a lot too, in the almost-empty: the not-alone alone.

I found it mildly humorous, like I was some kind of security blanket. But then, all at once, awareness washed over me and I was in kairos time. I was suddenly aware of the presence of the Holy, right there on the couch with us, legs tangled up in ours.

Time. It’s a funny thing.

In my book I talk about the mythology that gave us the words to name the awareness of the holy moments. According to Greek mythology, Kairos was the youngest son of the god Zeus. He is often portrayed as having wings on his feet, showing how quickly he rushes by. Ancient artwork also gives Kairos hair on his face but not on his head. This symbolizes that he must be grasped as he is approaching, because once he has passed, the opportunity is gone.

Kairos. When my eyes are open to knowledge that each moment passing is unlike any other, and so I grab each one by the beard … slow it down and look it in the face. Those are the moments when time stands still, when beauty seems to speak in ways that make my heart weep, when I feel the presence of God like a second skin—the days my sons were born, staring up at the night sky, sitting beside the hospital bed, watching a single leaf fall to the ground… ~Playdates with God, Laura Boggess

And sitting on the couch with a texting teen—studying the curve of his cheek, the long reach of his legs, the still-crazy hair. In the almost-empty nest I have more time to observe my life, to be with my one little chick who still waits to fledge. In this time of girlfriends and hanging out and driving, God sweetly allows the not-alone alone. He is giving me practice—training wheels in solitude.

He is holding on to the back of my bike until I am ready for the full letting go.

To listen to the audio of this story, scroll down.

I’m writing in community with the thirty-one dayers. Women all over the world are joining together in the month of October to write every day about something they’re passionate about. Check out some of the other writers here. So much good stuff. 

Almost Empty

Comments

  1. says

    What a precious moment, Laura. What you write about time in your books, those were some of the lines I treasure most. Thank you, friend.

  2. Dea Moore says

    Laura, I came over to catch up on your 31 Series today. I’ve been on a “online diet” and not reading much on the computer. I saw your 31 Day topic and I had to read. I know the Almost Empty Nest and now the very Empty. I knew you would put beauty and poetry, and love into these bittersweet moments. I am not disappointed. And how lovely to hear your voice here (I think for the first time.. I.absolutely loved it. Thank you so much for sharing these precious days.

    • says

      Thank you, Dea, for these sweet words. I would love to sit with you and hear about your empty nest sometime! I feel like this definitely practice–God is so kind to let me ease into it this way. I grew up in a very disjointed family and so tend to cling to my little bunch of boys a bit too tightly sometimes. This letting go has been harder than I anticipated. But it’s getting easier. Writing it down is helping me find all the little gifts God drops into these almost-empty-nest days. Much love to you, my friend.

  3. says

    How blessed you are that your son still enjoys physical contact. My son moved away from that much too soon for me. It got a bit better again after he got married because his wife is a hugger who comes from a hugging family, so now I get a hug almost every time. This is lovely, Laura. Enjoy that last little chick. And then . . . enjoy that next when it’s empty. That, too, is good. Very good.

    • says

      I have one of each, Diana–the touchy one and the pull away one. I’ve always treasured Jeffrey’s cuddliness (is that a word?). Still, these moments are rare these days and I could barely breath with him leaning up against me that way. A very sweet moment, indeed.

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