My Family (a long time ago)

Monday, April 18, 2011

When the Kids Are Gone

I was chatting on Facebook a few days ago with an old high school friend and we were talking about our kids. She has a 10 year-old son and was saying how she’s so glad to have him around because it would be too quiet without him there. She also has a twenty-something year-old son that has moved out. When I mentioned that, as much as I love my kids, I’m kind of looking forward to the day they’ve moved out on their own, she was very surprised. She mentioned something to the effect that it would just be my wife and I, so what would we do with all that time? I can think of a million things to do. Well, maybe not a million, but a lot.

I really do love the age my son and daughter are at right now – senior and freshman in high school – and I’ve loved every age they’ve been. Yes, even the so called “Terrible Two’s”. Maybe time has distorted my memory, but they really weren’t all that terrible. I feel that every age, every stage, has had its challenges, but also its benefits and joys. I loved when they were babies and just seeing me made them smile. And to my wise-guy brothers, no, that wasn’t gas! I loved when they were toddlers and they loved to sit with me and read books or watch their favorite video. Other than “Sox on Fox” when I was very tired, I loved to read to them and use different voices for the characters in the books. I loved when they started school and were reading on their own. Both my wife and I like to read and my daughter has followed in our footsteps. I loved when they started figuring out what they liked doing, like acting, singing, drawing, writing their own songs and playing guitar and piano. I loved when they started having real, deep conversations about themselves, school, friends – life. I would love to say that I enjoyed the whole college process with my daughter, but it has been more stressful than I ever thought it would be. But overall, I have loved seeing them grow, change and become their own person.

I’m ready for my daughter to go off to college. I know she is going to change and grow a lot in the next four years being away from Mom and Dad. I’ve seen it with my nieces and nephews and I’ve seen it with some of my friend’s kids. When she’s gone, I’ll probably appreciate her more than I do now, and I hope she’ll appreciate me more than she does now. As one of my friends has said to me, “It’s amazing how you suddenly become so intelligent when your kids come back from college to visit.” The more important thing is that I think my daughter is ready to go off to college, too. She’s ready for the next stage of life.

There was a time when four of my siblings and I were still living at home and three of them got married in the same year. So we were going from five to two kids left at home, my younger brother and I. To be honest, I couldn’t wait until they were gone. I figured I’d have the house mostly to myself; I could watch whatever I wanted on TV and listen to whatever music I wanted to, when I wanted. Somehow, I thought this would be the best time of my life. I’d be able to have friends over without interference from anyone and basically do what I wanted.

So the weddings passed and it was just me and my younger brother with our parents and it was…horrible. My brother worked nights a lot, so I suddenly really did have the house to myself. There had always been a lot going on in my house and there was usually a good bit of noise, but now the house was so quiet. I hated how quiet it was! I remember sitting in my room one night, listening to the silence and wishing everyone was back at the house. I had what I wanted and it just didn’t do for me what I thought it would. I’d watch a game on TV, turn up the volume to make up for the lack of noise and I still hated it. Another night I sat there thinking, “Is this what it’s like for an only child?” Because if it was like that, I felt bad for every kid that didn’t have brothers and sisters. I guess the old adage is true: Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it!

So I guess I need to ask myself an important question. Do I really want my kids to be gone and leave just me and my wife? Sure, we'd have the opportunity to do things we want without having to worry about rides and when someone was going to be home, but perhaps my friend from high school is correct. Maybe it will be too quiet, just like it was when I was suddenly alone in the house. There definitely is a buzz in the house when my kids are home and I do miss them when they’re gone. And I truly look forward to seeing them when they get home after being away for a few days. Actually, now that I've written this, maybe I’m not as ready as I thought I was. 

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