Empty Nesters

A couple days ago we handed our three kids off to grandparents in a Cracker Barrel parking lot halfway between our house and theirs.  Then we made the long drive back to Nashville alone.

It’s been eight years since Becky and I became “Mom and Dad.” Eight years of toys on the floor, Dora on the television, VeggieTales in the CD player, and goldfish crackers and nugget shrapnel smashed in to the van’s carpeting.  Eight years of being woken up with “I have a growing pain” or “I’m thirsty” or “There’s something in my closet.” Eight years of “You’re interrupting – What do you need to say?” Eight years of hurried eating, dashing to get done before the wiggles kick in. Eight year of early rising. Eight years of planning my sentences and life around three little people’s needs.

We were looking forward to the break.  Not from the kids themselves.  We love our kids.  We even like them.  We were – I was – looking forward to doing whatever I want, whenever I want, however I want it done.  How great will it be, I thought, to eat what I want, as leisurely as I want, without asking anyone to eat two more bites.  How great will it be, I thought, to never be interrupted, to always finish a thought.  And how great will it be, I thought, to use the bathroom without anyone knocking on the door and asking me important questions on the whereabouts of a sandal, permission to eat a popsicle or whether I’m going number one or number two.

How great.

How boring, it turns out.

Don’t get me wrong – I thoroughly enjoyed eating at a restaurant last night that my kids would hate.  I’ve loved listening to my playlist in the van, never being interrupted, and going number one or number two without telling anyone else which it was.  It’s been everything I dreamed it would it.

But it’s also been quiet. Too quiet.  And maybe, in time, if I knew my kids weren’t coming back, I’d get used to the lack of sounds, the clean floors, the freedom.  But right now, only two days in, I’m a little uncomfortable with it all – like I’ve been dropped into someone else’s life: My mom and dad’s maybe.

I think Becky’s feeling the same way.  But she doesn’t write about the uneasy moments of life.  She paints stuff.

Yesterday, we painted a room.  Today, we’ll paint another.  She’s cleaning out the garage right now.  Painting trim and replacing light plates later.  There’s furniture to be rearranged.  Stuff to be put together.  Lots to clean.  We all cope in our own way.  I prefer bacon or Ben and Jerry’s or words.

For those of you with grown kids who’ve now moved out, how long did it take to get a new routine?  Do you ever get used to the quiet?  What’d you do to make that transition?  I’ll be sure to come back and read your comments when my kids are grown and gone for good – sometime in my late fifties.