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Between doing loads of laundry, checking off that college packing list and swiping at unbidden tears, I popped the disc from the top of my music stack into the CD player and was transported back 40 years to my one and only year in college.

“You just call out my name, and you know where ever I am I’ll come running to see you again……You’ve got a friend.”

Carole King wrote the soundtrack to my freshman year at a Midwestern university. Whenever I hear those words, I am once again that frightened, pimply-faced teenager with the dream of becoming a journalist and changing the world.

 In those final days of summer, as I helped our youngest pull his stuff together for the trip south to his Midwestern university, I struggled hard with conflicting emotions over the fact it was time for him to chase his dream. I was excited about what lay ahead for him, but at the same time, I had major maternal anxiety over his health, his safety, new friendships he might make.

And there was the fact that after 20 years of homeschooling and nearly 30 of full-time parenting, my “career” had ended.

[Tweet “after 20 years of homeschooling and nearly 30 of full-time parenting, my “career” had ended. @IngridLochamire  #imperfectmom”]

Would I ever get used to the quiet? Just as I expected on that summer day we packed for the move to college, there have been more than a few times when l listened for my son’s car to pull in the driveway, for his footsteps in the bedroom above the kitchen or his music in the bathroom.

 The leave-taking of this guy, the last one of four, represented more than sending the baby off to college. This last one had been the standard-bearer for the brothers who had gone before him. As long he was still in our house, we were “family.” More than two sets of legs under the kitchen table, more than a pair of dirty glasses in the kitchen sink. Families who start and end with one child may not relate, but when your house has been filled with boy smells for almost as long as you can remember, the sudden absence of that last product of your parenting years is profound.

In truth, the transition to “empty nest” had begun months earlier, during late autumn, in a poignant moment on our front porch as migrating blackbirds were making their annual visit to our front lawn. They visited several times that week, swooping in to fill the branches of our trees, their “caws” echoing across the valley. The first morning of their arrival, I answered their call and stepped onto the porch, where suddenly I found myself transported back to other autumns spent learning at home with my sons.

The blackbird invasion had always been an event in our otherwise quiet homeschooling days. My sons, bent over the day’s school work, were summoned to the front porch by the cackle of the flock. Pencils rolled across the floor as the screen door swung open and the boys tumbled out, happy for the momentary reprieve from sums and stories. We had stood there quietly, marveling each time at so many black creatures, hundreds of them, according to our estimation, perched on tree branches or scattered across our lawn.

It always seemed the birds chose the brightest, most golden days of autumn to make their appearance. In the glow of ripened corn and shimmering maples, we shared the moment, this gift of nature’s comings and goings, the ebb and flow of the seasons.

On this most recent autumn morning, I found myself standing alone to watch the blackbirds, feet planted at a bittersweet crossroads. Moments earlier, the grey morning mist had parted as our son’s car rolled down the driveway, keeping an appointment to take a test that marked the end of his high school career.

[Tweet “On this most recent autumn morning, I found myself standing alone to watch the blackbirds, @IngridLochamire  #imperfectmom”]

I remember thinking wistfully, “So soon? Couldn’t we just stay here a little longer? There are books to be read together. Continents yet to be explored. Important issues to be discussed. Great works of art to be copied and examined.”

The birds had gathered to take flight and as I stepped back into the warmth of our quiet house, I reminded myself on that autumn morning that they would be back.

So when I packed up our youngest son to follow his brothers as they made their way in the world, I reminded myself again. “He’ll be back.” They know where we live, those birds and our sons. They will remember. They can find rest here. Home is a soft place to land, and whatever life brings, it’s the one place they’ll always find a friend.

[Tweet “Home is a soft place to land, and whatever life brings, it’s the one place they’ll always find a friend. @IngridLochamire #imperfectmom”]

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your path straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6

Ingrid LochamireAbout the Author: Ingrid Lochamire is a former newspaper reporter and homeschooling mom who writes about life on The Journey at She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Ingrid and her husband have four grown sons and operate a small family business from their farm in northeast Indiana. Her favorite places to write are a little cabin on the pond at her farm and a quiet a booth at a local coffee shop — where she recently became a barista!

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