Many parents sent their children off to college this month, some for the first time. Our friends Nancie and Dave sent their only child off to college in fall 2010, and they shared that empty nest syndrome can be much worse when you have only one child. Right now, with our kids aged five to fifteen, it's hard to imagine the day when we will have an empty nest. But college for Chris is only four years away. I'm sure those four years will pass before we know it.
Then there are the families who think they have an empty nest but then their little birdies come back. My parents went through that at one stage as well. However, usually the birds leave again.
The other day Mike sent me a link to this story, about a couple whose two grown sons have Fragile X syndrome, a form of autism. It reminded us of a family we met in Hawaii, who had two severely autistic, nonverbal sons. They too will probably never have an empty nest. This story is a good reminder for all of us who occasionally take our children for granted or lament that they are not independent enough. One day, for most of us, our children will be living on their own and be able to take care of themselves. It might take them longer than we would wish...but it will happen. For this couple--and others like them with severely disabled children--they will never be on their own.