Thursday, June 4, 2015
I had my first glimpse of the infamous ‘empty nest’ today. From a woman who has secretly been looking forward to quiet, calm, time-on-my-hands evenings, it kind of sucked. I’d been home for a while and reached out to each of my four kids hoping to go with one of them to a movie or on a walk or out for ice-cream or something. It didn’t happen. They were all busy with their friends – one was already at a movie, one at a soccer game, one on their way to work, and one playing football with his buddies. I was happy that they were happy and involved and engaged, but I was kind of sad too.
It wasn’t too long ago that I didn’t have a minute to myself. I was holding or feeding or wiping or changing or bathing or cuddling or walking or bouncing a baby. I cooked and cut and cleaned and explained and fixed things. I planned play-dates and read stories and baked cookies and watched hours of educational television. I was never alone, not even while showering or dressing or using the bathroom. And as the kids grew, the responsibilities grew too - evenings were filled with parent meetings, school plays, team dinners, and every-kind-of-ballgame-you-can-imagine in the heat, the cold, the rain and even the snow. I proofread, quizzed, practiced, quizzed, reviewed, and quizzed every subject nightly. I soothed sore muscles, and mended broken hearts - and prayed endlessly. “It will go fast”, they promised, “enjoy it while it lasts” they whispered - and I did. But I still longed for stillness and uninterrupted moments. Or at least I thought I did.
It’s funny how you don’t notice changes when they’re happening right in front of you. Stick-figure drawings evolve into portraits, story-books into novels, and play-dates into car-dates. Friends play longer and bedtimes move back. Bathroom doors close. Morning routines, once filled with miss-matched socks, miss-placed library books and nearly-missed busses, merge into a schedule of alarms, breakfasts, book bags, and keys. You purchase a variety of lotions, creams, sprays, and pastes. Your friends become the parents of your kids friends and the activity calendar is jam-packed. You learn how to text, update, chat, post, and tweet. Sweaty socks, work-out clothes and ball uniforms fill the laundry, Summer job applications fill the kitchen table, and graduation thank-you cards get mailed out. You don't see any of it as out-of-the-ordinary...until you do.
That ‘empty nest’ I’ve been looking forward to? It kind of sucks.