When an Empty Nest is Looming

A mother isn’t needed anymore at a visit to the pediatrician with her high school senior, and realization sets in that an empty nest is coming.


It has been a busy week for my last little bird left in the nest. He’s seventeen and more than midway through his senior year of high school. Things are starting to move very quickly. I know that empty nest is looming for me, and I always assumed I would be fine with it when it eventually happened, but after today, I am not so sure.


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I brought my son to the pediatrician’s office for a physical, like I have so many, many times before. Though, this visit was different. As usual, his name was called and we started to make our way down the hallway to the tiny room with the mural of silly sea creatures painted on the wall. Before we got there, however, the nurse looked at me and said I could go back to the waiting room because I wasn’t needed, and the doctor would get me if he had anything to discuss. I wasn’t needed? If he had anything to discuss? Go back to the waiting room? What??


I am fairly certain my chin hit the ground, followed by the rest of my face, as I turned to walk back to the waiting room with my head hung in shame.  I took a seat, feeling like I had been punched in the gut. All sorts of things went through my head – what if I was the one that had things to discuss? What if there were important health concerns I wanted to be addressed? What do you mean I am not needed? What if I told that nurse to mind her own business. What if…


As I was having a hissy fit inside my own head, a young man walked in that looked to be about my son’s age. He casually went up to the front desk, checked himself in, and took a seat. All by himself. Like a big boy. Because he is a big boy. Just like my son is. I started thinking about just how capable my own kid is. He could, without a doubt, handle bringing himself to the doctor’s office – without me. In fact, I have been very mindful lately to have him start doing things more for himself. I want him to be prepared to leave for college. This, right now, was all about me. I am the one that can’t handle it. I want to be needed. I need to be needed.  


What will I do with myself without anyone needing me? He isn’t my only child, but he is my last child at home. I don’t remember this great feeling of not being needed as his older brother and sister were preparing to leave for college. When my oldest left for school, my mother had passed away just a week before, and I was a complete mess. I did what needed to be done to get him ready, but I was wrapped up in my grief and his leaving didn’t hit me the way it might have under different circumstances.


When my daughter left, I think we were both looking forward to be spending some time apart, since we were always butting our (very stubborn) heads. Looking back on it all now, even with those different situations in place, it’s obvious to me that I wasn’t yet facing an empty nest, and well, now I am.


Realizing an Empty Nest is Looming


When the appointment was over, it turns out I was needed after all – to pay the bill. Go figure, I’m still needed for something. On the way home, I asked if he was embarrassed that I had brought him to the doctor, or that I wanted to go in with him.


“Embarrassed? No. I like having you with me.” Music to my mama ears! Then he added, “But next time, I can probably do it by myself.” Fair enough, buddy, you sure can.


I can only guess how many more times I’ll feel this way over the coming months. I mean, I didn’t even get to say goodbye to the silly sea creature mural painted on the wall. I will never see it again and that makes me sad.


Can you relate? Feel free to leave a comment below to let me know.


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