This summer, the birds started moving in when our last child started moving out. Our daughter has been packing for her final year of college for weeks. That’s about the same time the Carolina wrens picked our back study window and the house sparrows chose our attic window for their nests. Our house is now a full-nester. And if you think I could move the nests away from the house, you haven’t met a real angry bird. The house sparrow flies around your head to keep you away, and the Carolina wren mom dive-bombs and actually screams. We keep the shades drawn by her window. Her bird screams remind me of my children’s screams. The “he took the remote control from me” or the “we don’t have any more milk” cacophony was, I realize now, not necessarily music to my ears but the sound of my sense of purpose; now it is dwindling away. Basically in a week or so, our house will have a sad emptiness. At least we won’t be empty-nesters.
When our first child left for college, my husband and I were thrown off by our emotions. My insides hurt. Wasn’t the whole point of parenting to have successful, independent children? Didn’t we dream of going to a movie instead of a PTA meeting on a school night? So why did we miss him so much? When my son finally called the landline in mid-September, my husband and I raced to the phone and actually yanked the receiver from each other — jabbing one another with our elbows to gain the best ear space. The call lasted one sentence, just long enough for “more textbook money.” Over the next few weeks, we got two more short calls. No extra information provided. Nothing about the roommate, the courses or the food.