Transitions in Parenting: Filling and Emptying the Family Nest

Thanks for joining us for the second part of Bonnie’s Guest Post!

by Bonnie Brunt

Have you ever noticed that sometimes God does not agree with our plans? We thought life was crazy enough with twin boys.

But, God said, He would decide.

When my precious little boys were just over 4 years old, I realized I was pregnant again.  This time, I cried for 3 days and prayed for only one. Transitions in parenting can be a challenge!

Let me just say, I’m not a terrible Mom.  I was just stressed.  At this time in our life, we had sold a relatively new restaurant that worked us near death, and had just opened our second gift shop in a major mall in Atlanta that was literally working us TO exhaustion.

I don’t really understand how I got pregnant, for I was staying in a hotel 3 nights a week so I could work open to close in one shop, while my husband worked the other one, and basically, the day care was raising our little boys.   Not your perfect little family environment, but we were doing what we thought was the best we could do.  And, now, I’m pregnant, again, and crying, and tired, and stressed.

God really intervened at this point in my life, but I wouldn’t give Him the credit here, not yet… not right now, but that’s another story for another time.

Tom, that’s my husband, and I, ended up closing our shops, moving back to my hometown in South Carolina, and in September, 3 months after John and Stuart turned 5, our baby girl was born and we named her Grace. (We were pretty sure we would need as much grace as we could get.)

God had mercy on my frayed nerves–she was not a criminal!

We took 2 years off.  2 years of just raising our kids, playing with our kids, regrouping and figuring out what we were going to do and where we were headed….as a family.   Those two years were pure gift from God. Transitional re-grouping!

My brother has two boys at this time also, who spend a lot of time with us.  They are 3 and 5 years older than my boys. Our nest was filling up with lots of love and family.

As life progresses, my children grow and are just the happiest group of kids you can know.  My house is always filled with laughter, always it seems, additional children, chaos, dust, crumbs, dirty clothes, and joy.  I realize that my purpose at this time is to be a Mom.  I LOVE being a mom to these two criminals and one little princess.  Life is remarkable.

We build a home on my Dad’s farm and my children grow.  We are soccer mom and dad, football, basketball, dance lessons, whatever my children do.  We are John and Stuart’s mom and dad.  We are Grace’s mom and dad.   We are overjoyed to be their parents.  We aren’t really Bonnie and Tom as much as we are our children’s parents.

As the years pass, so does my brother. ..at 47.  At this time, his youngest son comes to live with us for a while.  This is good, just another mouth to feed, clean, do laundry, etc.  He doesn’t stay forever, but we did enjoy him while we had him.  It was extra stress during a stressful time with teenagers, but that’s OK.  He needed us for a while.

My children are growing, becoming teenagers and going to college.  The criminals go off to college, and it’s just us and the girl… and our dog Hazel. More transition.

My other nephew moves in for the summer, between semesters, and stays for 3 years.

Difficult Days

Lots and lots of stressful times during my daughter’s senior year in high school when my sweet son John is nearly killed in a car wreck, requiring nearly a year of recovery, but he does recover.    This year, my sweet son, Stuart, leaves for Kuwait, for a year – he’s in the military now.  My amazing son John has survived, recovered, graduated college, and moved out to attend graduate school. My precious daughter, Grace, graduated from high school and is a college freshman.  My nephew, Robbie, moved out for a new job and a sweet bride.

After all of this…our nest is empty.

Effective this past August, my house is home to Tom and me…. And Hazel and Waldo, our dogs, but people wise, it’s just us!

Tom and I are empty nesters!  That’s what they call us.  It’s been 23 years.  We’ve raised our 3, helped with my two nephews, countless animals, and a variety of children’s friends.

It’s been a wild, loud, dysfunctional, chaotic and glorious ride filled with transition!

My friends have not looked forward to this time of kids leaving the nest, the emptiness.  They have anticipated this time with sadness and loss.  Some have cried.  Some have panicked.  Some are just lost.

We have just been way too busy to even prepare for this time, this big empty house, the quietness.

Ohhhh the quiet.

I clean my kitchen and it stays clean.  I do maybe 2 loads of laundry a week.   My refrigerator has ONLY the food WE like.  My husband likes me.  I actually like my husband!  Who knew?

We go out to dinner 2 to 3 times a week and NEVER to McDonald’s or the Pizza Hut.  We can sit in our house without the TV playing.  We swing on our front porch swing and listen to the wind and the birds.  We laugh with each other again.  We are easy.  We are gentle.  We work a lot, but we aren’t in a hurry.

We LOVE to chat with our children via email and talk on the phone with them.  We delight when they come home and just cannot WAIT for Stuart to come back from Kuwait.  It will be a joyous time for our whole family.  But, we are not sad, panicked, or feeling loss.

We are delightfully rediscovering those two people who got married because they loved each other nearly 27 years ago.

God is good.  He has watched over us, listened to many tears, sorrows, and delighted in much praise and joy.  He has carried us through raging storms and violence.  He has walked next to us through calm.  He has been there when I didn’t seek Him, even when I should have.  Patient.

Over the past year, which has been tormenting and joyful for my family, Tom and I have grown together and been ripped apart due to just life.  I have prayed fervently that, through it all, that God would show me how to really love my husband and to “bring us back to each other”.  God heard me… and he answered.

So, empty nest…bring it on!  For us, it’s not a time to focus on what we have lost, but what we are re-discovering!  It’s our time to be proud of our children, watching them grow, using skills and tools that we have helped them develop over their life, while we focus on  the start to a new phase of a full life.  It’s exciting!

Thanks, God.

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