The Irony of the Empty Nest

by | Jun 24, 2023 | All, Blog, Chip, empty nest, Kids!, Stories | 0 comments

An empty nest. An adjective describing a noun and, at the same time, a mother’s state of mind. I have been watching a mother bird painstakingly build a nest, nurse the eggs, and sacrifice everything else to ensure its safety until maturity.

empty nest kids leaving home

I found one egg on the porch floor and witnessed fluffy feathers begin to peak over the sides of the nest. The next time I peeked, the nest was empty. New life was beginning, ironically, from that empty nest. That is when it struck me.  I was living the same scenario.

A wedding dress is not just a dress.

children leaving home empty nest

Nor is it interchangeable.  Poor Amelia. Since she and Nick became engaged, I have provoked her into wearing my wedding dress. I even stooped to use the ‘dead dad’ card to guilt her to at least try it on- which she did.

When I saw Amelia in my dress, the dress that Chip and I danced in, the dress he told me I was beautiful in, and the dress that made me a wife, I wasn’t sure I could share that with her. Truth be told, it wasn’t ‘her.’ It didn’t make that wow emotion that I want Nick to feel when he sees her for the first time. And yes, I won that battle, no first look.

Amelia’s dress is 100% Amelia. He accentuates her soul, love and confidence, and role as a bride and soon-to-be wife.  It belongs to her.

Amelia left my nest some time ago, and that day, I felt it for the first time.

A diploma is not just a diploma.

University of Alabama empty nest

Jack is my free spirit. A soul that is meant to travel, live a full life, and see where the road takes him. That is in direct opposition to my life and role as an Italian mother. When Jack went to Alabama, Tuscaloosa was 17 hours and 13 minutes (1,153.3 miles) away from home. As a Fulbright recipient, Jack will live in Berlin, Germany, and is a straight-line flight distance of 3,978 miles, 6,402 kilometers, or 3,457 nautical miles.

My friends, did you read that? Can you feel the agita in my soul right now?

The University of Alabama encouraged and nurtured Jack’s love of teaching, gave his the skills and strength to live alone, and, most importantly, unfolded his wings so he could fly.  It is not just a diploma but a ticket to leave my “Mama Nest” and fly.

Miss Tillie is my nest-mate.

empty nest with a bulldog

I still have a nest, albeit much smaller and with fewer humans. My nest mate is Miss Tillie. An English bulldog that snores like a 275-pound man, sits wherever she wants, and loves me with her whole heart.

Tillie can soothe my soul with her underbite grin and full-on butt wag.  She occupies my nest now and keeps me company as I write this post, sitting on my porch after a typical summer rain.

A different nest than we thought we’d have.

I love penguins, their faces, and their joy, but most of all, I love that they mate for life. According to,

When it comes to everlasting love, the first species that comes to mind is the Penguin. Some species only pair monogamously during the breeding season, but the African, Magellanic, Gentoo, and Royal Penguins all mate for life.

Each time a Penguin encounters its cherished mate, they show their love by cackling excitedly and swinging their heads. Both male and female Penguins work to prepare the nest and take care of their young together.

Chip was my mate for life; we built a nest and raised our young together.  I lost him almost two years ago. The empty nest we had just begun to enjoy was cut short, and now my nest is different and empty.  I see my children take flight, and I wish Chip were here to enjoy it with me. One day. Because one day, my nest will be filled again with spouses, children, and maybe a puppy or two.

It’s really not about the nest.

I am starting to realize that it’s not about the nest; it’s about the process. Looking at it as empty is simply not true.  It is temporarily vacated… that sound better? The kids are not far in spirit and soul.  They do check on me, and I had come to understand my mother’s apprehension about being alone when it stormed or going to the doctor’s appointment.  You lose a little of your footing, but the mama and perhaps one day grandmama instincts remain.

My nest will be open and ready for the next round of babies, families, and whatever comes my way.


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About Me

KarenHello and welcome.
I am often asked, “What is Pasta on the Floor?”
Pasta on the Floor is different for everyone. It is a recipe that tells a story and inspires them to try something new. For others, stories of family, joy, loss, and hope engage with them. This brings me a great deal of happiness. I do not take myself too seriously, so be forewarned the subject matter is open and truthful. In many ways, Pasta is a tale of life, and I think you will find familiarity and commonality as you scroll through these pages.

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