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Perspective: The empty nest

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We're a family of three, and our kid is soon to leave for college. The absence of one of us will be distinct, and we're going to miss our kid something awful. After all, he is a perfect amalgam of his mom and me, yet wholly unique. Now he's taller than us wearing my clothes, driving our cars with his girlfriend, challenging our sense of cool with his own humor and aplomb, creating his own vision for his future and going for it.

The time -- where did it go? What are we going to do next? Facing the empty nest is just wrought with emotions. I am excited for sure. But also sad and a little worried. I was talking to a buddy whose daughter graduated some years ago. I asked him, “How did you deal with all this change?” He looked at me with unassuming wisdom and emphatic joy and declared, “Joe Flynn, you’ve got to embrace this. Don't dread him leaving, but celebrate him going out there and blazing his own path. This is what those 17 years is for. And now I take trips anytime I want.”

He's right. Although our children may grow up and move out, they will come back with new friends, new partners, new children, new memories, always enriching our lives. So for all you parents out there about to drop your kid off at whatever university, try not to fret and know where there is love, there is no empty. And the Caribbean is always nice.

I'm Joe Flynn, and that's my perspective. Good luck to you all.

Joseph Flynn is an associate professor of curriculum and instruction and Associate Director for Academic Affairs for the Center for Black Studies at Northern Illinois University.