The Privileged Life: When the Nest is No Longer Empty…

“I will sing a new song to You, O God…that our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as pillars, sculptured in palace style.” Psalm 144: 9a,12

Peculiar things are happening at our house. Footsteps creak along the upstairs floorboards at all hours of the night. Food is disappearing from the refrigerator and pantry. Disembodied laughter wafts up from the basement den.

But it’s not Halloween, and Mark and I don’t live in a haunted house. It’s just another pandemic reality—our adult son has moved home.

Alex, 24 and still single, has mostly lived away from here for the past five years since high school. He graduated from college with honors and a degree in corporate aviation before spending time to earn his certified flight instructor rating. He had a bright future, looking to earn flight hours toward becoming a full-fledged commercial pilot.

Then COVID hit. And after six months of packaging bottles of lotion in a factory, he’s back home with us, now working on a backup career in information technology.

It was his idea to move back. And we accepted.

We’re in good company. Many of our friends and neighbors have already welcomed their adult sons and daughters back into their homes, some for temporary distance working, some for the long term. It seems to be working well for them.

But it’s a Twilight-Zone adjustment. After five years with an empty nest, we’re having to get used to a third roommate again. Living together as a threesome requires patience, flexibility, and good humor…along with more grocery shopping.

The bad news? More laundry (although he’s used to doing his own). More food to buy (and he’s helping). Sleep disruption (maybe I should go back to wearing earplugs at night). Rearranging cars every day. Having to figure out boundaries again, for all three of us. Our grown daughter gave us some good advice (see, and I need to take her words to heart.

The good news? Alex has a servant spirit…I am blessed that he wants to help around the house. Also, God has already granted him a part-time job, providing him with some earnings to pay off college debt as well as enough time to work on computer coursework. Yay, God!

The best aspect, though, is that we have unexpected time with our son. It’s a rare gift, a little light in the darkness of this pandemic.

We thought our little fledglings had flown from home for good, and we got used to the empty nest—it wasn’t too hard, knowing that our grown children were doing well on their own. But we were a little sad that our child-rearing days were over and that we were left behind alone together.

And want to know a secret? The empty nest isn’t such a bad thing. Selfishly, I’ve had more time to spend on my own activities without worry about being a chauffeur, cleaning up extra mess, or managing the family curfews. It’s been kind of nice for our marriage, letting us have a post-kids honeymoon of sorts.

So, having one move back home is both a treasure and a challenge, with unanswered questions. Will our marriage survive this new era? Will I be up for the task of being the right kind of mom? Will our son maintain a healthy perspective and his independence?

With the uncertainty of COVID and the current election turmoil, families like ours are going through upheaval and changes. But one thing is certain—God has us all in the palm of His hands. It’s another opportunity for talking with Him. While I’ve prayed for Alex during his time away, having him here now has given us family prayer times again. What a joy and privilege! We can still praise Him for the plans only He can see…and we know He makes all things beautiful in His time. Including nests.

Lord, thank You for the privilege of family. Thank You for drawing us all closer to our loved ones during these turbulent times, helping us recognize what’s really important. Grant us patience, perseverance, and lovingkindness with each other as we navigate new waters…be there to guide us safely home. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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© Copyright 2020 Nancy C. Williams, Lightbourne Creative