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The First of the Lasts: Preparing for an Empty Nest

As the last of the firsts and the first of the lasts approach, Lynn Cobb remembers it all – through her dining room table. Read more from Lynn on her blog, Midlife Random Ramblings .

The First of the Lasts of Childhood

Our dining table is a disaster. We bought it twenty years ago, when our family expanded from four to six. It has seen numerous dinners and holidays and homework projects. The finish is ruined. There are dots from markers and gouges from toddler flatware. If you look closely, you can see someone was upset about doing homework, and their vice-like grip on a pencil carved a few letters and numbers into the table.

There is a patch of varnish gone do to a spill of nail polish remover. And now, there is what looks like a pixie trail; the likes of fairy footsteps of silver and gold glitter, strolling across the table.

These are the hazards of having a daughter on the varsity cheer team: glitter, glue, poster boards and laughter late into the night, especially during Homecoming Week.

For the umpteenth time, I scrubbed that table and ran the vacuum. It is almost impossible to get all the glitter up from the floor, off everyone’s shoes and from the table. I have found glitter tracks in every room of the house, into the basement, in the garage and in the car. I shudder to think how much glitter the dogs have consumed. I wonder: Do I leave a trail of glitter at the grocery store?

A few years ago, I would be fuming that once again the house looked like a glitter tornado blew through. But I have softened as I began to realize that this year, above the other years, is different.

It is the “First of the Last.”

Our last child is a senior in high school, and each “First of the Last” is hitting me. I guess that is obvious when I don’t get upset that the house sparkles from glitter, rather than from a good scrubbing.

My epiphany began earlier this fall when I filled out an emergency card for the school office. I remember the year I had writer’s cramp after filling out four sets of cards for four kids with almost identical information for four different schools. I remember thinking “two more years of doing this,” and then “one more year of doing this.”

And now, this is my last year.

The last year of high school choir concerts, football games and shopping for homecoming dresses. The last year to chaperone at dances or drive on field trips.

I won’t lie – there have been challenges throughout the school years. From chicken pox to hurt feelings to fighting over homework. From last-minute science fair projects and chiseling glue off the table, there were moments that were not all warm and fuzzy and Norman Rockwell-perfect.

But as I set in motion to clean the glitter today, my eyes began to water. The hard work of getting most of the shimmery stuff off of every piece of furniture and the floors was daunting, just as daunting as it was to herd four kids off to school. There was a time that the noise level in the house had me thinking I’d lose my mind. Now I wonder if the quiet will.

In time, the glitter will be completely gone, just as these school years.

But as I wander around a quiet house, preparing for the next phase of life, I know that the memories will behave just as the glitter – they will work their way back to the surface. I will always have a fond memory of glitter and glue and crayons and markers. And those shiny spots that pop up will remind me of the days of hustle and bustle and memory making.

One day, I may re-finish the table. Or just get a new one. Or maybe not. Maybe I will leave it as it is, marred and glittery, as a reminder of the smiles and laughter and enjoying every moment, even if the moment is a “First of the Last.”

© Lynne Cobb – 2014

Lynne Cobb

Lynne is a professional writer and blogger, with articles and essays published in local dailies and national publications. She is blessed with a supportive husband and family, who encourage her in all her endeavors. Check out Lynne's blog Midlife Random Ramblings, where you will also find links to recently published works.

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Saturday 4th of July 2015

I loved this article. I can completely relate as my children are leaving the nest faster and faster. Only one left and the other three close out of the nest. Yet another transition in the journey.


Saturday 4th of July 2015

It definitely seems like faster is the key word! Enjoy the journey :-)


Thursday 30th of April 2015

Thank you, Leslie! Enjoy those years with your baby!


Wednesday 29th of April 2015

I've gotten three kids through high school so far. This sweet post made me glad that my baby is only ten (even though I know the next eight years will fly by). Good luck with your transition!

chris odonnell

Wednesday 29th of April 2015

Our youngest of 4 went away to college last September. For the first time ins 26 years, its was just the two of us.

And we're LOVIN' every minute of it. Yes it's different, but a good different.

We have raised 4 young men, 3 of which are employed and all 4 make us proud.

enjoy the "first of the last" but look forward to the "first of the first".


Thursday 30th of April 2015

That is a good point, Chris!!! Thank you!

Jim Wilson

Wednesday 29th of April 2015

Being a stay at home dad the last 17 years, I feel the same with my senior. Wouldn't trade the experience for anything!


Wednesday 29th of April 2015

I agree, Jim! Enjoy senior year!

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