My Empty Nest

It's not always empty.

What are we waiting for?

Is this the best use of our time?

all signs point to yes


Mothers are the modern day ladies in waiting. We wait nine months for our babies to be born. We wait in the pediatrician's office to hear how much weight they've gained or lost. We wait in the playground while our children play. We wait to hear them come in at night. We wait to hear that they got into college. Mostly raising kids is a waiting game.

And I actually thought that the waiting was over, now that our kids are in college. But it isn't. And maybe it never will be. After all there's waiting for graduation, graduate school, first job, first (and hopefully only) wedding, first grandchild, and on it goes.

But after so many years of wondering what's next and almost missing it when it happens because I was so preoccupied with wondering what's next, I've come to see waiting as a good thing, not a passive or a wasteful way to pass the time of day. Waiting can also mean watching, and patient expectation of good for someone (like one's children) and also for oneself. Waiting is certainly something all writers need to not only do, but enjoy doing. Ah there's the rub. How does one learn to love waiting?

I'm waiting right now in a Bleecker Street cafe. Waiting while my daughter has an interview for a summer internship. I don't have to be here. My daughter is 19. She can cross the street without holding my hand. She looks both ways. Most days.

No I'm here because she asked me. And because I want to. Because independent young women still need their moms. And moms still need to be needed. Not oppressively, not exclusively, but occasionally. I'm using my waiting time wisely. I'm writing, I'm drinking a latte and I'm doing a lot of thinking. Not a bad way to spend the day.

40 some years ago Joni Mitchell wrote a song called Tin Angel. The last line of the song is "in a Bleecker street cafe/ I found someone to love today"

I couldn't get enough of that song when I was 19. When I was my daughter's age. When that song was all about bitter sweet romantic love, leaving and losing and changing partners. Finding oneself in another. And even back then, after the 90th time I listen to that lovely tune I had to say, come on. Get real. Life is more than just falling in love. Life is about finding what you love to do, who you should love (who you shouldn't) and, the big mystery magic trick - staying in love.

My empty nest has shown me many things this past year. First of all, it's not so empty. Second of all, I picked a life partner very well. So staying in love is easy. Which isn't to say we don't fight. But staying mad is hard when you've married the right person, someone who sees the best in you and demands that you see it too.

So I'm not 19 any more (thank God) and as that long loved Joni Mitchell song played in my head, underscoring my thoughts about the future, not only my daughter's future, but my future too, I realized that yes today in a Bleecker Street cafe I found someone to love and funny enough that someone is.....myself.

 

 

Madora Kibbe is a Christian Science practitioner and writer who lives in New York.

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