When Patricia Cena Evans met her husband 23 years ago, they built a lively "nest." With identical townhouses next to each other, they knocked down walls in the dining rooms, connected the buildings, and settled in for life with six bedrooms, two full kitchens, and five children.
"We would go through a gallon of milk in a single day," says Evans. "It was like Grand Central Station in my home, with kids constantly coming and going."
When her last child moved away in September 2008, it was a bittersweet transition. Like many empty nesters, Evans felt an unexpected wave of loneliness. But with a freed-up bedroom, she also felt a secret thrill: Finally, she got the sewing studio she always wanted.
Evans shares her story in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Empty Nesters (Chicken Soup for the Soul, October 2008, 978-1-935096-22-1, $14.95), a collection of stories about surviving and thriving when kids leave home. With 101 stories from both parents and grown children, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Empty Nesters encourages readers with tales of tearful goodbyes, newfound freedoms, rekindled marriages and rediscovered hobbies. Inside the book, Evans describes her own "empty nester" moment.
"As a nurse practitioner/midwife, I'd dealt with my share of patients who wore long faces when their kids left home. And I didn't get it. Why was everyone so sad? I would be elated to see my five heading out the door," says Evans.
After a fleeting moment of loneliness in the mall however, she realized after all those years of raising kids, freedom could finally ring.
"For the first time, I really got it. I understood the melancholy ache, the emptiness my patients had confided to me. Suddenly, I felt less calloused and more understanding. And — like I'd advised so many patients — I knew I needed to take a lesson from my fledglings and rejoice in my own newfound freedom."
As a Women's Healthcare Nurse Practitioner and Certified Nurse-Midwife, Evans works on both sides of the nest. She helps mothers ushers new life into the world, and mentors other women as they face the departure of their grown children. She currently lives with her husband and best friend, Jack Hankins, in Huntington Beach, California.
To schedule an interview with Patricia Cena Evans or receive a review copy, please contact Rusty Shelton at (512) 785-4469 or [email protected].