Full and Happy Nest

By Maura Masters


We live in what some might call an empty nest. Our two children have flown the coop, and fly home occasionally for visits. My daughter hasn’t been home since April. My son hasn’t been home in a year. We raised them, however, to leave us and live their own lives, so it’s not all that unexpected that my husband and I are enjoying our time now. So what do we do with ourselves?

We work, eat, watch shows on Netflix and PBS, work, sleep, walk Pancho, and speak to each of our children on the weekend, if possible. Not all work involves a paycheck. We work on the house, on the yard, on the gardens, on the camper, and we go camping.

We went on an overnight road trip to celebrate his birthday in Crested Butte last July.  Last fall we went hiking in Fruita and it was spectacular, literally breathtaking.  He went alone on a desert trip to Utah in April; I went to Cape Cod to visit family in September. Now is our time to both date each other again, and to be single.

We married in a rush. At age 31, I finally met my prince after dating an army of frogs. They were mostly good experiences, and I wasn’t particularly looking to get married, but when I met John a light bulb went off in my head and I remember thinking, “So this is what they’re talking about when they mean ‘the one.’”  I liked him. He is clever, loyal and generous, and even-tempered.

We moved in together three months later and wed three months after that. We eloped (the minister wore cowboy boots), went out for sushi and spent the night in the Hotel Jerome. Ten months later we had our daughter and about two years after that, we had our son.

My children are the jewels in my crown. I love them to the moon and back times googol. They are both so unique, and loving and kind. Plus, they’re smart as whips, and a ball to be around. I truly enjoy their company, but likewise value their desire to be independent.

They know their parents are always an arm-lengths away, and sometimes I insist that that distance is shortened by a real-person visit, not a Facetime or Instagram, but for the most part, we all get together when we are able. I assume to think that there are not too many strings on either side. It all seems to work out for the better that way.

John and I’ve been married 24 years this December, and we still like each other. My heart still flutters when he walks in the room. He’s my boyfriend who sometimes brings flowers, but it hasn’t always been a bed of roses.

Marriage is hard work. Raising a family is hard work, and it’s all very expensive and often exhausting. But it’s the most rewarding and personally fulfilling work I’ve ever done. When I’m asked what I do, the answer is: wife, mother, worker bee and volunteer.

I’m not one to stick with anything for longer than 5 years. I get bored, and crave something new. I don’t play 18 holes of golf because it takes too long. But I will sit on the beach all day and stare at the ocean because the waves are always different.  It’s the same with the flames of a campfire.

Every day being a wife and mother is different, and being married almost half my life is a testament, I think, to our friendship. We are compatible that way; we take our vows to each other seriously. If nothing else, it’s an indication of sheer will and perseverance. You could call it stubbornness.

On the other hand, we make each other laugh every day. We say “sorry” and “thank you,” and mean it. One daily kiss is required albeit some days it’s through pursed lips with furrowed eyebrows, or sleepy or weepy eyes.

I actually wouldn’t wish myself on anyone for long periods of time. I talk a lot. I do not suffer bullies or injustice lightly. I have lots to say, and I can become somewhat emotional. Maybe that’s because I grew up in a brood of six kids (four boys, two girls) where I was continually shouting into the wind, trying to filch my share of airtime, but today in my mid-50s, I value listening more than being heard. I enjoy reading, cooking and taking long walks. I watch corny rom-coms and treasure talking to my dear mother on the telephone.

Taking care of others too much can make me crabby and short-tempered. Sometimes I like to take care of myself. To take a look at what I need and grab it. There are afternoons when I go to the movies by myself. Winter evening bubble baths and summer morning swims are always welcomed.

Taking care of others, however, is what marriage and parenting is all about, but it also extends to friendships and colleagues, and other family. I generally, most days, like being pulled in a million directions — like the distraction of being busy, being of service and learning something new — but I’m not one to give of myself around the clock. I don’t have the stamina or patience. Sometimes I just want to nap.

In our full and happy nest, I find myself being less giving. I am more aware and possessive of my solitude. I curl up more. I look inward at my spirituality, and pay attention to my outward health. I am more specific with my requirements, and available time with others. I believe John is the same way.

We have fallen into a pattern that makes sense for us. The nest is full of laughter and calmness, fortitude and compassion. We take care of each other. We love each other. There is always something, or nothing, to do, and having the choice to do one or the other is fine by me. Over the years together, we’ve both grown into doing what we want to do now, and that feels comfortable.


Maura Masters is the editor of Alice and that keeps her busy in a good way. She enjoyed spending the holidays with her family and friends. She recently began new work that she likes very much. Her life to this point has been a journey with many open doors and joy, and she is very grateful.


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