Interminable quiet bears witness to my house's 327-pound weight loss this week: my children are scattered like birds leaving the nest.
Like the paradox of deafening silence, their absence is more conspicuous than their presence. Almost.
It's a gift, the half-full glass tells me. Just as Clarence demonstrated to George Bailey that never having been born would've meant the detriment–even death!–of those he loves most, and how Cash gave Jack Campbell a "glimpse" of what his life would've been like had he made other choices, I've had a "taste".
It's the same, only different.
Rather than a backwards glance over my shoulder, however, my Capra-esque vision has been a peek into the future. Life as an empty nester.
Sweet mercy, just a mention of those two words sends shivers down my spine and has me running through my house, screeching like a banshee, flailing my arms over my head like I'm running from a swarm of angry hornets! Not because my children will be gone, but because I'm old enough for my children to be gone.
It's only been four days–hardly enough time even to miss them, but the second time I've been without all of them this summer–and yet, I've discovered a few random insights into this season of life…
~ Laundry becomes not only manageable, it's a completable task.
~ Once again, I'm reminded we're raising our children for someone else.
~ Taking baby steps (or sometimes giant leaps) towards independence will serve them well in college, work, ministry, marriage, family.
~ I'm thankful they're secure enough to leave home, to have a good time apart from us.
~ Remembering I was a wife before I before I became a mom.
The funny thing is I thought I recognized…understood…lived that last one. But being alone with my husband for an extended period of time in our house? It's very different from being alone together for a romantic getaway.
It's daily. It's not a celebration of anything in particular. And though I don't think we've ever been accused of being "child-directed" parents, I realize how much their lives and activities determine how our family spends time (together or apart, when we have to be two or three places at the same time).
It's hard to believe we've been married almost 22 years! We know each others' stories, we anticipate how each other thinks, and yes, we can often complete each others' sentences.
And, dear me–recently we even matched when we met a friend for dinner! As we stepped out of the car, I realized we both had on black shirts and jeans (mine were capris, thankfully his were not). I sent that as a text to my daughter and she replied, "Mom, if you did it on purpose i am NOT coming home hahahahahaha! love you and bless ur heart." It was definitely a "bless your heart" moment.
My "glimpse" has made me aware that marriages–our marriage–needs to be nurtured; there needs to be intention coincident to loving action.
We learned that turning on the television is a death blow to romance. We've relaxed into each other and talked (interestingly, rarely about our kids). We played Scrabble. He watched golf, I watched my laptop.
Ebb and flow…give and take….
A glimpse into our future.
Today is my middle child's 15th birthday; how can I feel such joy and reluctance in the same celebration?
Two of the three return today. I look forward to this reunion, knowing in advance I missed them more than they missed me. I'm okay with that. Beyond watching the Lord at work in and through my children, there is no greater success to me as a parent, than for my children to to delight in the lives they live both with us and apart from us.
And I smile to think the empty nest still has room for two.
Ha! We’re home alone this week too–I only have one left in the home and this week he’s visiting his older two brothers. We let him drive 5 1/2 hours (yikes) to see them with his 16 y.o. cuz. (double yikes) I have told everyone that I see when they ask about his leaving for college in the fall—> I MUST GO WITH HIM!!! I cry just thinking about it now–but I cried with the other two as well ,and so far WE have survived. My husband made me turn off the music cd I was playing (Somewhere in Time soundtrack I believe) when Sonny #1 went off to college because it really irked him that I was giving in to my sadness by playing “sad sounding” music LOL! He felt as bad as I did.
Thanks for the reminder of nurturing the marriage 😉
YEPPERS–laundry all caught up!!
We were watching golf last night –only I usually watch too–Prayers for Amy and Phil Mickelson (pink ribbon inserted here)
Happy Birthday to middle child–an love that text message of daughter!! Way too funny!
This is lovely, Robin. You and I are in similar stages, and I will enjoy a few days “alone” with my husband later this summer. I like what you said about the difference between being home alone and spending time on a romantic getaway. I guess we’ll need to get used to it–it’s coming fast!
A great post, you write beautifully. I am still in the baby stages, and can’t imagine having days alone, but interesting to read your thoughts.
Dear Robin. I always wonder how my parents felt when the last of us moved out – they had five kids over a 15 year period. So, I’m sure they really 100% had to get to know each other all over again…
Empty nesting is definitely a different season, but one with many blessings. I had no idea how much we’d enjoy our children as adults!
First, I read this piece earlier this morning… and loved it. Very well-written. Having made the right-of- passage to “empty-nestdom”, I can tell you that it’s a challenging growth process.
I haven’t quite left Mommydom behind (and maybe I never will). Yet now, *finally*, other sirens are calling. Really, I think all women who put their heart-and-soul into their families (as I did) face an identity crisis. It’s good that you’re expanding your horizons and strengthening your marriage in advance.
BTW, thanks so much for your invitation to be friends on Facebook. I really don’t hang out there much, and haven’t taken time to learn all the ins and outs. Hopefully I will as time goes on!
So sorry I let the ball drop on your gracious invitation to post at Bliss. Life continues to pull in other directions.
Loved this – had exactly the same experience this week (it’s that mission trip time of year!) and blogged about it as well.
So grateful how God allows us time and experience to process the details of life – both in the days that beg to be lived right now and what lies ahead in the future!