As time marches on…I’m beginning to accept that having time to myself is actually a nice perk to becoming an empty-nester. At first…I wasn’t sure about it. When my kids were younger or even when they were all in middle and high school, I would have given anything for few hours of peace and quiet to watch what I wanted on tv…..sleep late…or decide to cook or not cook if I so choose to. Our home was always chaotic at times, loud, and messy. I mean…five kids in six years….there is going to be noise, chaos and messes. I remember the days when one or more of my kids trying to pull me out of bed to make them cereal or asking if they could watch cartoons…at the crack of dawn and even before dawn. I would try and convince them to go back to sleep…but I wasn’t always successful. Trying to get them to go to bed was a whole other story. I was an exhausted mommy…didn’t they understand that?
The older each child got, the later they would sleep and easier it was to get them to bed. I was seeing light at the end of the tunnel. I’m sure I am not alone …..and yes I had guilt over feeling this way…but I was one of those moms that would give anything to go to a hotel ALONE and just SLEEP! Just one little bitty night Then they became teenagers and college aged and the roles were reversed…I couldn’t bribe them out of bed in the mornings! On Saturdays ..forget it ! They’d stay up til 2 am and sleep until noon.
When one of my twins, my daughter, went off to college five years ago I was thrilled for her…I had a great college experience she will too…I was a little envious remembering my college days which didn’t seem all that long ago. Sure I was a little sentimental…but I actually didn’t cry after leaving her at the dorm. I was very excited for her and plus I had more children at home. Then her twin brother left home, moved into an apartment with a friend. With less hormones in the house I was good with the twins leaving home and I wished the best for them. Then my middle son moved into a house with a friend. The house became more quiet.
I knew it was too good to be true, but I turned our 4th bedroom into a computer and sitting room …moved all our books and movies into the room and filled up the closet with all my organizational boxes and keepsakes and then…..my oldest son moved back home. There went my computer and hobby room. My daughter came home after her first year of college to live at home and commute to and from college. A year later she became engaged and so we spent the next year planning and preparing for the wedding….we had wedding stuff we had been collecting all over the house and in closets. A year and a half ago she married and of course moved out of our home after sharing a room with her sister for 18 years and her twin brother for a few years before that. As she was moving out…our middle son moved back home to save money to go to school.
Our youngest daughter left us for life in college the year before her sister married. It was then that it began to hit me…to affect me….and all these emotions came at me like a brick wall hitting me in the face. I found myself crying often…what will I do without my little shopping buddy…my little shadow…she grew up and became a college freshman.
With my oldest son working a lot and my youngest son busy with high school and track and cross country I was finding myself alone more and more. My husband has driven over the road as a truck driver for over 20 years and I have become accustomed to his being away and am use to it, as much as you can get used to being away from your best friend and spouse…never easy, but somehow you manage. But…then you add the kids leaving and it becomes a little more emotional.
This past Fall our youngest child, our third son, became a freshman in college and was recruited by a university 3 hours away…6 hours round trip, so we didn’t get to see him very often. After one semester we quickly realized, as did he, that this was not the school for him. He had the opportunity to run for a school closer to home, but this time on a full scholarship. I thought he would be home more often being 25 minutes away, but that has not been the case as he has been traveling with his team out of state and even to Nationals in Ohio. We have had a few opportunities to see him when he has run locally, but besides that he has been home for Spring Break this week and we have enjoyed spending time with him and our daughter. They leave tomorrow to go back to their schools and finish up the Spring semester.
Slowly, I am becoming accustomed to the quiet….to the boys coming in from work after I have gone to bed and me leaving for work early in the morning….to eating meals alone. I have realized that its OK to be alone….to have peace and quiet….because it gives me time to reflect on how blessed I was to have had five beautiful and healthy children to raise. Sure it was stressful at times, it was hectic at times….but most of the time it was fun and we made a lot of memories. Their childhood’s flew by so fast and sometimes wish I could go back and do a better job, but it is what is … I did the best I could with our situation. The life we created for them was good and they have always been loved. I wasn’t perfect, they weren’t perfect and it is OK.
Here we are…my husband and I about to turn 50 this year … we aren’t fully and true empty-nester’s….but we are close. Our two oldest boys will hopefully be moving out this year and our two youngest will be in college for another two and four years. They will continue coming home on occasional weekends, holidays, spring break and summers.
One thing I know …and that is to enjoy your kids when they are at home, because it goes fast … and then they are adults…building their own life’s…….but they STILL need you…be there for them always. Because I still need my parents….and I’m about to turn 50!