Whew, we made it.
Through the first night of real, forever, lifetime empty nesting.
After a few years of trial empty nesting (college years, #3 working in NY for part of the week, then home on weekends) and with all the post wedding hoopla- which led into holiday coming and goings, we are finally on our own.
29 years, 4 months, 6 days and 12 hours…we were just the two of us again. I made the run to BWI in the snow to deliver the last one on his way back to the place where he now lives. I’m not calling any place more than 20 miles away from me their home.
I started the brainwashing while they were in middle school. In the boys bathroom I hung a little sign (its still there) in the top right corner of the large wall mirror that says: “Home is where your mom is.” And I’m standing by that.
The house is eerily quiet…it knows too-they are not coming back this time. It is bitter cold and there are 4 inches of new fallen snow outside so all sounds are magnified everywhere I go.
I have known from the beginning, almost 30 years ago, that life as a parent would mark us as no other life experience would. Our perspective on the world around us opened as we faced life as parents of 3 little boys-from day one. Somewhere between the diapers, cooking meals, bathing babies, trips to the doctor, the sports practices (try to imagine year round sports for 3 boys!), church events, school outings—we grew old…older. The everyday living in this old farmhouse changed us from bright eyed youngsters to seasoned veterans who learned the cardinal rule of parenting teens: “Never looked shocked by anything they tell you.” You can go to your room, shut the door and shock yourself, but keep that, “I’veseenitall, theres nothingnewunderthesun” façade in front of your teen.
The most surprising thing to me, as I sit here on this bright snowy morning, is how fast it all went by. And I say that a little teary, but mostly with a heart of thanksgiving for the mercy that God showed us by giving us the boys he did. Our boys are like their mom and dad—far from perfect—but we have not had to deal with nightmares of drugs, accidents and illnesses that have marked many others parenting journeys.
Life is far from over and only God knows what lies ahead—parenting is a role that you start slowly and then gain speed and momentum as your kids grow up. Right when you hit your stride, you have to apply the brakes. Just let me be on the record saying—parenting adults is no picnic. Thousands of books are written on how to be a good parent to toddlers and teens, but not so much for adult kids. Because… let me tell you, young mamas and daddys of little ones…this part has the potential to be the hardest yet. It takes a lot of self- control to hold back the words of guidance that were honed so well in the teen years, when your kids become adults. It takes REAL effort to remember not to start sentences with, “I think….” Or “You need to…..” Or “You ought to….” and a hundred other things that were so common and NEEDED with younger kids. That makes parenting an always learning experience.
And if you are blessed enough to have kids that grow up to be independent and able to stand on their own two feet-you will have a day like I did yesterday. Just like the day they came into your arms….they will leave on their own-with a prayer of thankfulness for God’s goodness.
My hub walked in from work on this dark, snowy night and greeted me with, “It’s just you and me now, baby.”
I’m so thankful that he is enough.
Me and the hub as a snow couple (I painted this!) out on our own. In the cold. All alone.
I LOVE this! I can certainly relate to all of these words and your tender heart for your kids. I look to others for good examples of parenting adult children well. That is a whole other story, to be sure! I really love your painting!! It is lovely and speaks in volumes to me.
Well done, Stephanie! You and your “hub” have done such a grand job with your boys and agree that it doesn’t stop now……. these boys will need you both forever!
Gail, we raised our kids together. Forever thankful for having you guys to lock arms with on the journey! xxoo
So well said, my friend! What a blessing it is to know our children walk with Christ! It gives us such great peace and comfort to know that, as empty nesters, God still has them in the palm of his most gracious and loving hand!
Beautiful! (And you’re an artist, dear friend-in more ways than one.)
It is a different day. But it is a day that must come. It is actually the day we wait for all of those years. At times we can’t wait and at other times we dread it. It comes either way, no matter what we want or think. I don’t sit at a farm, but I sit on a lonely hill, waiting for the door to open and the chaos that I love to come in like a whirlwind. Thankfully five of mine live close enough that the door opens often. I pray yours will open frequently too. ❤
Love this, not quite there yet, still have one to start college but boy are they gaining momentum
Janine, it truly is the best of times, the worst of times. May God give you wisdom as you navigate this season of life!
I love your front porch tales , mostly cause I lived through most of this with you….So I feel every emotion too. Love you Cathy
Ditto, Cathy. You are my soul sister. So blessed!
Stephanie, great emotionally wise letter. We know the feeling, but our kids are next door on both sides. We never imagined that, but we like the feeling. Ours is more like Paul’s family — close. We were the ones who moved away — Kansas and Ohio — then back home. Thanks for sharing you thoughts.