And the nest gets a little bit emptier



A lthough it’s everything that you raise them to do, it’s tough to graduate a child.

Especially after going through a senior year that is riddled with the last of everything. The last first day of school, the last football game, and as the graduate so blatantly pointed out — the last Halloween he’d spend at home.

You would think that a mother of four boys might celebrate when one of her kids sprouts their wings and leaves the nest.

For me it just isn’t so.

Some folks might wonder what my beloved spouse and I were thinking to have so many boys in the first place. Was it a period of self-loathing? Or did we just not know what caused it?

Raising four boys hasn’t been easy, I’ll give you that. They’re an energetic sort, rambunctious and oftentimes have more oomph than even they can handle.

We’ve watched our kids cover themselves in mud for no apparent reason. They’ve played All-Star Wrestlers during weddings, ran with scissors, and went outside without a sweater on chilly days.

On the day the boys learned Wal-Mart plastic grocery bags don’t make good parachutes, we shook our heads, looked up toward the heavens and said to God, “It’s in your hands now.”

Our little boys spent the better part of their public experiences garnering unwanted attention. Restaurants were a nightmare, trips to the grocery store were a fiasco, and oftentimes as we exited Mass, Father Richard would pull us aside and advise, “Keep the bail money handy.”

I longed for the day when they could ride under their own pedal power and I wouldn’t have to lug them along in a trailer buggy. In an attempt to expedite the situation I’d hold their bicycle seat, run alongside them and watch with trepidation as they’d once again lose control and crash to the ground.

Still, the days sped by. Time moved at lightning speed, and to be honest, I never really cared to slow it down. I couldn’t wait until they could brush their own teeth, tie their own shoes, and, doggone it, I prayed for a child who could not only complete his own school projects but have the decency to erupt his science volcano outdoors.

It was funny how the day came when things slowed down just enough to notice our lives were changing. Our boys were growing up. I didn’t have to worry about the scene they made in public because they preferred to stay at home. They chose PlayStation over the park, fast food over restaurants, and they left me out of their homework because I couldn’t understand it anyway.

Our Vernon is 22 years old, and we can no longer claim him as a tax deduction. Our number three son, Lawrence, can drive himself from here to there, and although I still call Charlie little, he now has 2 inches of height on me.

And then there’s Huey, the graduate himself. He is making plans, completing applications and preparing to join his older brother in seeking an education far from his mother.

Given the chaos that enveloped us when they were young, you’d think I’d welcome his departure. But it just isn’t so.

Instead I want to slam on the brakes and turn back the clock. As I pull out the snapshots and look at the chaos that was the bane of our existence, I realize they were the best years of our lives. We didn’t sleep much, but we laughed. We didn’t

have time for a clean house or great hair, but we made memories that will last a lifetime.

Somehow 22 years have passed since I looked into my first newborn baby’s eyes. The time has flown by so fast, and although I can still see the little boy in all of our kids, the rest of the world sees them as young men . Although it was nothing short of amazing to run alongside his bicycle to help him reach a speed where he could keep the bike upright, I feel tears well up in my eyes as I realize I was running alongside him so he would finally be able to ride away all on his own.

In doing so he marked the first of one of the last times my kids are going to need me.

Just in case, I’m keeping the bail money handy.

Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” You can reach her at