I started writing my blog 9 years ago, after our son left to attend university in the USA, and we had to adjust to an empty nest. With both children living 4,000 miles away, I felt bereft, but soon adjusted keeping connected with family through Internet. Nearly a decade later, our son disillusioned with his job, and the lack of leadership in the US government, moved back to Europe to look for work in Switzerland.
The only problem he couldn’t find a job here. Now after landing employment in London, he flew off again to live with his British girlfriend.
Initially having him home was an adjustment, but we soon looked forward to seeing him at mealtime. Like having live in house help, he pitched in to help cook, clean, shop, and do yard work. Every few weeks Larissa would fly over from London, so we got to know her better too.
They had hoped to settle in Switzerland, but jobs were scarce, so when hired by Michael Page, a professional recruitment agency in England, we were happy for him.
Yet I was stunned by the sadness I felt when he moved out again even though I know kids are gifts on loan. We raise our children to be independent and self-sufficient. Successful parenting means working ourselves out of a job.
Still our home will always expand to accommodate grown children and grandchildren one day. They will always have a safe haven to recharge their battery for the challenges ahead.
Now our daughter lives in the Minneapolis area, our son resides outside of London, and we are located near Geneva. For someone growing up in small town USA, this situation is unimaginable. But for international families living cross culturally raising bilingual kids the reality is not so different than our own. Siblings are scattered across continents and the global generation thinks nothing of living between worlds.
Even knowing wonderful adventures await my son, I still feel pangs of grief. I miss hearing his witty humor, sharing his ideas and having his empathetic ear. Most of all I miss coaching basketball with him where I witnessed firsthand his knowledge of the game and his gift for motivating teenagers.
Now I will gladly visit him in England. I look forward to discovering a new country, learning about another culture, and maybe even picking up a posh British accent.
Just as my parents opened their doors for us every summer so that our children could grow up learning English and understanding their American heritage, our home will remain at the ready to encompass family needs at every stage of the life cycle.
As every parent knows the nest is never truly empty. Our rooms’ resound with memories, our halls’ echo with laughter, and our ceilings’ reverberate with stories.
Our children move far away, but remain as close as ever, only a heartbeat apart.