Empty Nest: Five Years Later

jd and Nate

On our way to Oklahoma (May 2009)

May 2009: Nate, my youngest child and only son, and I climbed in my Pontiac Vibe for the two-day drive from our home in Orlando to far west of the Mississippi for freshman orientation at Oklahoma Christian University (Edmond).

August 2009: We drove to OC again. This time I drove home alone. How much I missed him.

Fast forward to this past weekend.

Saturday: I climbed in my Vibe and headed west. I’ve moved to Memphis so now the trip only takes the time for about half of the CDs in the audiobook I’m listening to–David Baldacci’s The Hit.IMG_0235

You see, Nate graduated this past April with a bachelor’s degree in sports administration. His college days  are over.

Sunday: Nate and I attended the church where he has been interning this past summer as a youth minister.

Monday: We packed up both his Camry and my Vibe with all his worldly belongings and returned to Memphis.

This morning: We hugged goodbye, and I stood at the top of the hill as he headed back to Florida for his first post-college job, a youth ministry in Fort Myers.

How much I miss him.

But in a different way.

Nate is stepping on a new path with well-grounded values, maturity, and a laidback calm that comes from being a southern boy with two older sisters. Not much ruffles him up. You bet I’m proud of him.

Nate all dressed upIt’s a transition for the both of us.

Like his sisters, Nate is crossing a threshold into the grown-up world of independence and his career path.

For me, it’s the recognition of a subtle shift in our relationship. I’ll always be his mom, always available with advice, a hug, and even a hand-out if he truly needs it. But he’s definitely his own person, truly responsible for his own decisions.

Life as it should be.

I miss the little boy he was, and I am so very proud of the young man he is.

I love you, Nate.

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