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I remember the puppet shows so vividly. 

The stage curtain was always the same old, red-checked, woolen blanket strung roughly between two chairs and tied off with rope. 

As their mama, I was of course their captive audience of one. Cheering and clapping enthusiastically after each performance. The plays always felt like they were a little too long, perhaps deliberately dragged out toward the final act, just to keep my attention. 

At the time, I mistakenly thought those cute, slightly annoying puppet shows would last forever. 

Fast forward 25 years and those puppet shows have well and truly gone. There are no makeshift stages with curtains and chairs strewn about the house. No sound of pretend play voices filling my world. 

RELATED: When There Are No More Babies To Rock

The silence I once craved as a young mama has finally arrived. 

And at first, the silence is deafening. Waves of unexpected grief wash over you, for no apparent reason. 

Your sense of purpose feels like it has literally just walked out the door, to college, on a first date, or even down the aisle to a new husband or wife. 

And outwardly you are smiling broadly, grateful, and so very proud of how far they have come. 

But inwardly, to be honest, you are floundering a little.

You have been shuffled to the sidelines of your grown kids’ lives. You know instinctively it’s where you should be now—on the sidelines. 

And yet instinctively knowing something and living it, are two very different things. 

Suddenly you are standing on the sidelines feeling awkward and trying to fit in somewhere. But you are not entirely sure where that somewhere is just yet. 

RELATED: I’m a Different Kind of Mama Now That My Nest is Empty

But then, slowly something strange begins to happen. 

The silence that was once deafening changes, and it becomes less of an enemy and more like an old familiar friend you haven’t seen in a while.

You give yourself the grace, time, and space to understand this letting go thing. 

You begin to embrace the inevitable changes that have come. Slowly and tentatively, you start to find your way again. Your new somewhere

And in some strange way, you realize how those childhood puppet shows had inadvertently prepared you both for the future. 

Your now-grown children have indeed become the puppeteers of their own lives. And you, their mama, remain in the audience, forever and always, cheering them on. 

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Susan Lambert

Writer, wife, and empty-nest mama of two grown sons. Passionate about the power of story and faith to encourage others. 

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