I’m enjoying my empty nest. To be fair, it’s not always empty. They come back, we “puppy-sit” our grand pups and we get together. But having my sons grow up was always going to be the outcome – and having them “fly” was always the goal. I’m good with it.
The goal was that my kids would eventually fly.
And then it hits me in the gut like a sucker punch. We went out for breakfast today and midway through my latte a young family with three sons came in and sat at the table next to us. The boys were each two or three years older or younger than the next and they came prepared with toys to keep them busy and quiet until their food arrived. They were well-behaved. I was mesmerized. I had a hard time looking away from them.
How could it be almost 25 years since that family was “us?” The oldest was keeping the volume down, watching for his parents to return with their coffees and was clearly in charge. The younger two were deeply involved with a puzzle toy and were clearly well into solving it. They were adorable and I was swept back into the life that was once ours. It was like looking into a time-machine mirror.
My dad once told me that I would look back at those years as the best years of my life.
He was right. We were a single unit, totally dedicated to the upbringing of our three sons and the preservation of our family life. I have no idea how we managed to fit owning & operating a business, school, church, sports (x’s 3) and a pretty good social life into the meager 24 hours a day we were given. But we did it. I cooked and baked more then and undoubtedly had more laundry and household chores. Yes, I had some help and some very good friends whose lives were like ours. We had each other’s backs for a lot of the overlapping activities.
I miss the days of having young kids.
I miss those days.
I miss the children who needed me and I miss being the mom who did things no one else could do.
I miss the family dog who is no longer with us and who used to take advantage of our crazy schedule to trick us all into feeding her when she’d already been fed.
It’s like that, you know. . . . some days you miss the life you once lived. Even though today’s life is pretty darn nice. (Have I mentioned lately that retirement rocks?)
That little family instantly brought me back to my previous life. It made me nostalgic and it made me thankful. I have wonderful memories of our family at that important stage of our lives and I appreciate how blessed that makes us.
I also appreciate that this life we share is ongoing and we have wonderful things ahead of us. There will be more gatherings, family vacations and days filled with fun plans. There will be grandchildren and hopefully we will be part of those crazy schedules and busy lives.
I stopped on the way our of the restaurant to compliment the parents on their well-behaved children and their beautiful family. I may have also mentioned we also raised three boys. I couldn’t seem to stop myself.
What I didn’t mention was that it has been the single most important thing I have done in my entire life; certainly the greatest joy and biggest privilege. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
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