Last night, the hubby dropped a bomb that resonated hours later…
There were piles of clean laundry on our bed, I was ironing and he was folding. We were talking about nothing of consequence until he stopped and said, “Do you realize, in only six years, J will finish college and E will go off to college?”
We’ve been married longer than that, and yet it feels like the years have flown by.
I’ve been in America longer than that, and yet if feels like I just left home.
Only six years, and we’re done with this parenting thing.
“Well, not really. Not until E finishes college too,” the hubby protested.
but we will be done I will be done.
If current plans hold, our kids will no longer be living at home full-time.
They will no longer need me full-time.
I will no longer have to deal with that tension—the making of choices that are faithful to this parenting charge I’ve accepted but requires me to put aside dreams of lesser value, and yet are valid dreams still. [I have learned early on that I cannot do it all. And now, in six short years, I can start doing what I have had to put aside for my children.]
In so many ways, I will be done.
We grinned at each other. We started making plans, resurrecting old do-you-want-tos and coming up with new ones.
“Hey,” I dreamed out loud, “Can we fly to New Zealand the day after we drop E off at his dorm?”
The hubby dreamed bigger, talking about moving away from this zip code, because schools won’t be an issue, and buying a house with more land. A smaller house, but more land for that orchard I want. Gasp! How exciting!
True, we will still have to write checks for college. And yes, we definitely will be counting the hours until our boys are home for the holidays and other school breaks. But for the most part, it’ll be back to just the two of us. And even though we know there will be a lot of times when we will sit on our bed and wait for phone calls from our people who are somewhere else trying out their wings, we won’t be lost.
Yes, we’ll be empty-nesters. It feels strange, I thought out loud, to be contemplating such a concept when our couple-friends are still changing diapers and strapping little ones into car seats. So strange, when I’ll only be in my mid-forties and the hubby will be in his late forties. But we started out young, hitting the ground and running ever since. And the seasons fly by, and now, with all our hopes held in His grace, we’re looking at a lot of years left together.
By His grace.
Oh, how relieved I am, I told my hubby of almost-seventeen years, that we like being with each other! How thankful I am, I told my best friend of seventeen years, that so many of the rough edges have been smoothed away by sad tears and joyous moments, and we now fit together so much better than we did back then. How excited I am, I confessed to my favorite partner in crime, to realize we still have so much living left to do. There is no one else I’d rather journey with than him, and he quietly assured me he felt the same way.
I suppose it is true that when our children, who have taken over our lives, set out to live their own lives, then we get to go back to the way it was in the early days of our marriage.
Sure, we would have aged. And yes, put on several pounds. We would have less ideals and more experience. But deep inside, we’d still be the same people.
And in that new season, we get to pick up right where we left off on that day we found out we were pregnant with the first one. We get another chance to chase the dreams that did not involve children.
So we resolved, quite naively perhaps, that when the time comes, we will not wallow in the sorrows of an empty nest. We’ll have less people, sure, and that will mean less reasons to laugh and cry, but we will still laugh and cry.
We started on this road together. And no questions about it, our sons have made the days worth living. But this marriage is the story of the two of us, of the life we’ve decided to write together. Perhaps the years at home with the boys will prove to be the best chapters, that is more than enough.
Still, we have pages left to write.
But—so much can change in a day, let alone six years. There’s a lot of work left to do. And next weekend, for sure, we will be back at it, folding and ironing the same clothes we were folding and ironing last night.
These little cycles—they make up the bigger ones that fall into seasons marked by events and celebrations.
Life, and a good God.
I am grateful I get to do it all with my people.