E is for Empty Nesting
Despite the fact that I hadn’t planned on having babies when I did, I always liked that they would both be legal adults by the time I was 40. Yes, we were young parents but I don’t think we missed out on anything along the way– individually, together, or as a family.
(I don’t know how forty year olds have newborns… well, I know how… I even know a couple of forty year olds with little kids; I just don’t know how they do it!)
I have a friend who jokes with me about my “18 and out” kid rule. Now, “18 and out” is not exactly how it went, I mean, both my kids turned eighteen in November, the middle of their Senior year in high school and we couldn’t exactly expect them to move along then, but I’ve always raised my kids to be self-reliant, independent, and responsible for themselves, in preparation for when they did move on.
I don’t mean to sound cruel, I’m no task-master. I love my kids. I’m very proud of them. I enjoyed every stage of their growth—every one! From newborn, when I didn’t know anything, to teenager, when they knew everything.
Really, I did.
I’m afraid some people misconstrue my attitude. They might think I rushed my kids into adulthood. Not true. They might think I didn’t like doing things for my kids. Also, not true. They might think I don’t like my kids. Absolutely not true!
The truth? My mom died when I was nine.
It’s always been very important to me that my kids learn to live without me—just in case.
Now, luckily, nothing happened to me and they made it to adulthood just like I’m making it to midlife, but we all know there are no guarantees. I felt it was my parental duty to enjoy every minute, every chapter*, preparing them for life outside their parent’s home.
*I used to joke about The Official Teen Handbook…
“Oh, I see you’ve reached Chapter 3, How to Perfect the Eye Roll.” Or, “You hate me? I’m so proud you’ve completed Chapter 8!”
(A sense of humor is imperative to parental survival.)
I do wonder occasionally as I’m sweeping from the edges into the center of the kitchen floor, or folding my towels neatly into a trifold for better stacking, wiping the counter crumbs into my waiting hand or shaking the corn starch and water in a container with a lid to make gravy, if I remembered to teach them these things. But then I think, maybe I did, maybe I didn’t. Maybe they figured out a better method based on mine or maybe they figured it out all on their own.
Even if I didn’t teach them the specifics, they learned the basics to build on.
I know I’m lucky—I have good kids. And only two, which worked well for us. I also have a great husband who is a great father who appreciates the underlying reason for my preferred parenting method. And it’s true, my nest is not completely empty because I have Dave.
I know empty-nesting can be hard for a lot of people, especially moms, and I certainly don’t want to discount their feelings, but I considered my kids moving out to be the next stage of their development. Crawling…walking…running…flying.
Emptying the nest.
I enjoy hanging out with just my husband. I enjoy being by myself. I like that my nest is empty, I believe it means I did a good job as a parent. I think I’ve earned this free time.
I also know you’re never not their parent, no matter how mature and responsible your kids are, there will be emergencies to tend to and weddings to plan.
My kids are grown-ups, they live adult lives. They are self-reliant, independent and responsible for themselves. They stop by and call, we get together frequently–lunches, shopping, Icehogs games. I enjoy their company. I like them, not just because I made them, but because they’re cool people.
And I’m still enjoying every stage. From birth to now and the occasional “what’s the best way to make gravy” call.
Next up? Their kids.
(Oh, I am so going to enjoy my kids being parents. I look forward to their firsthand refresher course on The Official Teen Handbook!)
E is for Empty Nest is my next installment of the In Print ABC Blogging Challenge.