Posts Tagged ‘empty nest’


I hope Augusta National Inc. doesn’t come after me. The title of today’s blog is a trademark they filed in 2014, after veteran sportscaster Jim Nantz coined the phrase almost 30 years ago. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, just walk away right now. Save yourself a few minutes of your day. Tradition, in the McGarvey household, is spelled S-P-O-R-T-S.

We love almost every sport although we have had a few discussions (i.e. arguments, debates) about what constitutes a “sport.” I think we’ve gone both ways on horse racing, non-Olympic year curling and rhythmic gymnastics (Olympic sport or not). We most closely follow  the Big Four (baseball, basketball, football and golf) though we make exceptions for the Daytona 500, the Triple Crown and the Indianapolis 500.

The McGarveys could not care less about robins and groundhogs…in our house, the signal of Spring’s arrival is March Madness, the Final Four, baseball’s Opening Day and The Masters. Ah!  I can smell the magnolias already.

Our tradition starts with an email from David informing us of our March Madness brackets. We started filling out individual brackets when the boys were pretty young. I would photocopy the big one printed in the Monday USA Today, the morning after the announcement. When it came to picking winners, age made no difference…Sean always, always, always correctly picked one of the underdogs, but overall it usually came down to Don or David. Now, of course, we’re all high-tech with on-line brackets on various websites. Doesn’t matter to me – I still get killed in the second round.

Televised basketball games run non-stop from that opening Thursday morning through Sunday evening…and then start up again the following weekend, until there are only four teams remaining and my living room spells like a locker room, dirty socks and all. I loved it.

Each year, the men’s championship basketball game is played on a Monday night, followed by the start of The Masters (“a tradition unlike any other”) on Thursday. David used to take off from work the four days of The Masters. He almost cried when his friend scheduled his wedding on Masters Saturday. (Really? Who does that?)

Our favorite players don’t need last names (Zach, Jordan, Jason, Tiger) and we root for them as if they are our neighbors and best friends. We were all together watching when Tiger’s miraculous chip went in on the 16th hole in 2005 – and two years later, when our city’s favorite golfer claimed the green jacket – and then two years ago, when a kid the same age as our boys took home his first major championship by 4 strokes.  Just a few of our favorite memories.

This year…oh boy!…this year, baseball’s Opening Night game is the Sunday prior to the men’s basketball championship. AND, it’s the Cubs versus the Cardinals in St. Louis. Seriously – in our house, it can’t get any better.

To be honest, the hardest part of my empty nest thing is the loss of this bonding around our favorite sports. Our tradition took a hit when Sean went away to Ames for school. Last year, David was living in his new apartment and our living room was much neater (the couch cushions actually stayed on the couch all weekend) and no one ate any snacks or drank any Dr. Pepper. Even my boys notice and try to help me. Last fall, Sean and I watched a post-season Cubs game on bar stools at a bowling alley in Ames. David made it a point of coming home for Game 7 of the World Series so he could be with me when my team won (and wasn’t that a nail-biter!?) Not sure what I’ll do this year – may need to Skype in Sean when my Cardinal-loving men start trashing my Cubbies. Except, this year, I can give it back. #WorldSeriesChamps

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Sean and David 1

Parenting is hard.

In fact, the actual act of giving birth is the easiest part. Once those big brown (or green or blue) eyes look into your soul and those little fingers get a grip around your heart, you are toast. And the pressure to be everything they need is overwhelming. It’s really the hardest and longest battle of any parent’s life ~ the battle to let them go.

It starts around age two. Some call it the “terrible 2s” – not sure why – just because my beautiful compliant baby has now learned the word “no” and refuses to wear clothes in public?

We work so hard to help our kids learn right from wrong. We teach them colors and numbers and letters…we listen and love…doing fractions homework and science fair projects…agonizing together through middle school, watching them struggle, succeed, struggle, succeed, over and over and over.

This parenting gig is gut-wrenching.

High school – late nights listening for the garage door to open or the text to ping. Meeting new friends… people of both genders passing through your living room. You pray the lessons on purity and kindness and integrity are being lived out away from your watchful eyes. Attending the “last” of anything brings out the waterworks – last band concert, last baseball game, last youth group, last family vacation, last Christmas together in one house.

That empty nest feels like a staycation…for about a week. Then the house is too quiet, the bedroom too picked up, the laundry basket and kitchen sink too empty.

It is not easy…releasing the chick to fly on his own. And now I know – releasing would be easier if you absolutely knew they would never encounter any obstacles.

So I sit and pray…listen and love…give advice only when asked but trusting always in the wisdom that only the Holy Spirit can give…to me and to him.

He must face life now, somehow without the seat belt we buckled him in 20+ years ago. The pressure on him is intense…pressure that I know can crush. If I didn’t trust in the only One who loves him more than I do, I would be lost. He faces struggles unknown – financial, emotional, mental – as all of us do in this life journey. The adventure which was once exhilarating is now lonely and dark and fraught with danger and shadows. Fear of failure threatens him – broken dreams and battered promises line his path. He must now rely on his own faith journey, without me or his dad as a buffer.

Parenting never gets easier. A pattern never develops. There is no book that has all the answers (even the Bible couldn’t help me with the “why won’t he wear clothes?” question).

I’ve gone from parent to teacher to coach to cheerleader with stints as referee here and there. Just when you think you’ve got it, you either have another kid who is the polar opposite or the first one changes personality and temperament overnight.

My husband and I pray every morning that our kids make good choices, that doors will open and doors will close, that they would be salt and light wherever they go, that they would have favor and financial provision and wisdom. Always wisdom. May they have the courage they need to fight each battle with bravery and conviction. And that they would never give up on themselves or their dreams.

I’ll pray the same for you today…as you parent your children. We love these little bundles of joy and heartache ~ may you be armed with strength and courage, love and kindness, hope and long-suffering. May the Holy Spirit guard your mind from doubt and give you wisdom for the darkest nights and brightest days ahead.



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Now that all the kids are gone, it’s seems like a good time to let go of some stuff. We moved our oldest to his own apartment on Saturday and I wasn’t back home 20 minutes before I had re-arranged the living room and brought a single bed up to his former bedroom. It’s not that I was anxious to see him go (see Saturday’s blog post), but I couldn’t just leave the outline of his double bed in the carpet. Since he’d packed up all his stuff, it was inspiring me to pack up and get rid of a little of my stuff…years’ worth, actually.

My mom passed away 3 years ago and though she suffered a stroke 2 1/2 years prior, she wouldn’t let us declutter her house. She often told me, “Leave my stuff alone. You can do that when I’m gone.” Well – we’re still dealing with her houseful of stuff – mostly items she bought or collected long after her 5 kids were grown and gone. I’ve had to deal with some major resentment issues over her leaving this monumental task to us (mostly my sister, my hero). Sometimes I just want a large box of matches – it would save so much time and energy.

The lesson I’ve learned is GET RID OF YOUR OWN JUNK! Yes – I was shouting. Use every day to get something out of your house…either thrown away, given away or sold…but gone! gone! gone!

It doesn’t have to be a large, unwieldy project. Go through one bag or box each day ~ a shelf in a closet ~ your medicine cabinet ~ your kitchen junk drawer (yes – everyone has one). How about your closet filled with puzzles or games? Donate them to a children’s home or school. Clothes you haven’t worn since the 80s? Pitch them…please. If you need ideas, there are tons of suggestions online.

Spring cleaning is more than washing windows – it’s an opportunity to get the physical, mental and emotional clutter out of your house (and head). And it’s so wonderfully freeing. So many of us are held hostage by our stuff – let it go! Give it up!

Last night I dumped about 5 years’ worth of old Christmas cards. I opened each one, noted the name of the sender, reminisced about that friend or family member and then pitched the card. Long over due but it felt great when I was finished. Tonight? Maybe my bookcase in the living room or the top of my bedroom dresser. In my house, I have no lack of places to tackle. I have accumulated a lot through the years and it’s time…time to de-nest the empty nest.

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