There are two huge transitions in a parent’s life: Welcoming a first child, and learning to live in an empty nest once the kids leave home. In the poignant parallel photo series Expecting and Empty Nesters, photographer Dona Schwartz shows parents sitting or standing in their children’s empty rooms. Each emotionally charged environment suggests an unexpected lens into the parents’ state of mind:
“In shooting the series, I came to more fully appreciate what an incredible leap of faith it is to become a parent—my expecting parents are filled with hope and love and innocence,” Dona tells Quartz. “To me they are so precious—it is a charmed moment that never recurs.”
She adds: “I thought of the empty nesters as my peers—wiser, more circumspect, and just a little melancholy—turning the page on one of life’s longest chapters is no small thing. Too bad there isn’t a parenting completion party to parallel the baby shower our friends throw. But then parenting is never really done.”
Both photo series were published together in Schwarz’s moving new book On the Nest (Kehrer Verlag), out Nov. 2015.