My Scrambled Nest

An Almost-Empty Nest Journey of "Letting Go" With Laughter and Love, By Cathy Free


Now that my oldest child is out on his own in a college dorm, I’ve found myself flashing back often to various stages of his life and mine, beginning with one day in particular: The day that I announced to my extended family that I was pregnant.

As a busy journalist who traveled a lot, I spent the first decade of my marriage happily moving from one story to the next, delighting in meeting new people every week and interviewing them about the most personal, painful and joyful moments of their lives. I rarely thought about what my own future might hold. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to have children. I simply wasn’t ready to. By the time I turned 30, my mother had finally given up her chats about biological clocks, and everyone assumed that any additional branches on the family tree wouldn’t be coming from me.

Then one day, at age 35, about 10 years after my wedding vows, I realized that I might have a “bun in the oven.” I rushed to the drugstore to get a home pregnancy test, and when the little plus sign turned pink, I felt a mixture of elation and panic. What had I done? What should I do? My husband and I did a little dance around the living room and decided to wait two months to phone his family out of state, then tell mine in person at a family Christmas gathering downtown. After dinner, once everyone was digging into their desserts, I stood up in the restaurant and announced that I had some important news.

“No! You’re not moving again!” said my sister.

“No! You’re not getting divorced!” said my brother.

My sister-in-law smiled knowingly from across the table. She was the only one who got it. “Let her talk!” she said. “It’s good news.”

When I confessed that I was pregnant, my mother let out a small gasp and nearly dropped head-first into her “Death by Chocolate” cake. If a star had been shining in the East, she couldn’t have been more surprised. (Well, it was almost Christmas.) Cathy? Pregnant? Without even trying? A miracle!

Six months later, when I gave birth at age 36, I was the oldest mom in the maternity ward, but no matter. As my mother proudly explained to the nurses, “She’s a late bloomer.” 🐣








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