How did the in-laws do it?


Last week I celebrated 32 years of marriage to an amazing man.  He deserves the Congressional Medal of Honor.  He certainly does.  I started thinking about my empty nest stories and remembered something that I hadn’t thought about in such a longtime.  My husband is one of three boys.  He is the “middle” son and in my opinion, the “pick of the litter.”  I started going through wedding pictures. First I drifted to “did I really make the girls wear that dress?”  “Did my husband really pick out that tux?”  Then I found a group picture with our families.  My husband’s younger brother was dressed in full Navy uniform.  How could I forget…?  Ronnie (my mother-in-law called him Reggie) had just, that month, joined the Navy. He just came home one day and said “I joined the Navy” and he left.  I think of that now and can’t even begin to imagine how my in-laws felt.  He was 19 – it was better for him, but still it must have been hard to let him go…

Then I remembered that my older brother-in-law moved away with his girlfriend.  He just picked upend left. Gone. All three sons had moved out within a month.  I never thought about the way that must have felt until I started this blog.  Empty nest?  I can’t even imagine having a “full house” one day and then complete silence the next.  My mother-in-law is the total opposite of my mother.  My mom changed the locks when we left and my mother-in-law would come to our apartment and do our laundry and have everyone over every Sunday for dinner. She loved being a mom and I can only imagine that her nest was rocky at best with only the mom and dad perching inside.   She spent so much time preparing her children for independence and to be productive adults, but never spent time on preparing herself for the conflict she would feel within.  How could they all go at the same time?  I can’t get that thought out of my head…so I asked.  She said it was confusing.  Now she will tell you that she embraced the confusion.  Confusion gets you away from “normal”.  She looked for other things to do and she found them.  Her youngest eventually came back and stayed for a while before getting married and that put her right back into 1st gear. She hit the ground running only to have him leave again.  Her older son eventually continues to come back and forth at will… Her grandchildren do the same. She has a safe place where people can come and go, get a great meal, and lots of love.  I see the hurt in her eyes though, when the giving is not reciprocated.  She never says a word but you can see that she needs to be needed. Strange how some of us deal with things.  My mom would be dancing in the streets.  The funny thing is that my mom and mother-in-law are good friends.  They seem to get along so well and yet they are so different.  What do they say?  That’s what makes the world go round. Personally, I think an “Empty Nest”  is for the birds!



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