I'll Never Have An Empty Nest

by Crystal Ponti
Originally Published: 

A flicker of light shone brightly not too long ago. It was a ray of sunshine peering through the sides of an almost empty nest. Any day, the final bird would raise his wings and fly for adulthood. And I’d be gleefully free. For once, there was more sand in the bottom of the hourglass than at the top. The taste of freedom lingered on my lips. God, it was riveting.

Suddenly, and without much warning, the holes in the nest filled with a much younger husband and two unexpected baby birds. The glimmer of light vanished and reality set in.

“I’ll never have an empty nest.”

At forty years old, I’m buried under babies—babies who won’t mature until I’m the wrinkled-infused age of sixty. By then, there will be plenty of grandchildren and possibly even great-grandchildren. Rather than an empty nest, my twilight years will rock a full house. While others my age enjoy bingo aboard Carnival cruises, or discover skinny dipping for the very first time, I’ll be nurturing new adults and struggling to find my lost cane among a barrage of baby bags, toys, and miscellaneous kid stuff.

“I’ll never have an empty nest.”

Tears often surface when I say the words aloud. But why? Are they happy tears? Or bittersweet drops of regret? It’s safe to say, these moist pearls swell with both joy and misery.

Children are a gift, and I love mine dearly, but the notion that I might soon be “free” had been intoxicating. I don’t regret starting over. I don’t regret losing impending freedom to Romper Room 2.0. I had just hoped, for a moment, to breathe. To catch a glimpse of life on the other side—over the hill and through the woods to where adults go.

“I’ll never have an empty nest.”

Little birds devour the hours ticking by. They steal thoughts trying desperately to escape. “Me” time becomes “we” and “they” spotlights. It’s been six days since I’ve washed my greying hair; hair that no longer blows in the wind. Lifeless strands fall with each brushstroke, covering the sink and floor. A haunting postpartum melody has been my background music for far too long. My stomach and thighs reveal the battle wounds of child rearing and labor. A small hand reaches out to touch the scars.

“I’ll never have an empty nest.”

There’s a baby on each knee laughing and playing. “Mama!” one calls out, just to hear the sound. I’m reminded of what would be missing if the nest had emptied. It would be a foreign land. I’d be lost without wiping away tears, doctoring skinned knees, or soothing first broken hearts. I’m a mother and a nurturer. The keeper of a very full nest.

I’d been so distracted by the glistening of freedom that I never noticed another light in the background, flickering all along. A bright glimmer of hope and a shimmer of peace. It’s a mother’s glow. An ever-present light that never fades.

“I’ll never have an empty nest.”

And…That’s okay.

This article was originally published on