We were blessed with three rowdy little boys. We thought the first one, Steven was a handful during his toddler years until we had our second son. Sean took rowdy to the next level. Then we decided we’d try one more time to have a little girl. That’s when Seth entered the picture. Oh my, as a toddler he made Steven and Sean seem like perfect angels!
We would go to activities or events and see little girls playing so nicely, coloring, fixing each other’s hair or playing with dolls. Then there were our boys, wrestling, throwing things, slamming into things and so on! Seth didn’t rough house as much as the older two but he found MANY other ways to keep our lives interesting.
When Steven had his first day of kindergarten, I stood there with tears streaming down my face as he got on the bus, he looked so little! Then with Sean, he was so excited because he knew his big brother rode the big yellow bus, I was a little teary, but less emotional. Then with Seth and his terrible 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, 5’s…. I think you get the picture. I was smiling ear to ear and waving vigorously as I put him on that big yellow bus! I might have been skipping as I headed back to our house. Of course I was praying for him, the bus driver, his teachers and pretty much anyone that worked at the school!
As each one of our boys hit mid-teens, this miracle happen! Each one of them became a little more mellow, they didn’t talk as much (which at times was a bummer), they didn’t have to touch their sibling just because they walked by or was sitting by them in the car. Our house became amazingly peaceful for the most part. Then I would see all my friends and family with the young teenage girls. I would often see tears, pouting and yelling at times. One of my neighbor friends and I were standing at the end of her driveway talking just before dark one night. Her 12-year-old daughter had been at a friend’s house and was coming back home. Her mom asked her a simple question and she snapped harshly back at her mom as she continued to march inside their garage. Her mom said softly to me, “she has been crabby all day”. Her daughter had just reached the door to go into their house, I swear her head turned almost all the way around on her shoulders as she yelled at the top of her lungs “I AM NOT CRABBY”! Then she slammed the door as she went inside. Her mom and I were laying on the driveway laughing hysterically, we were both like, oh no, she’s not crabby. After events like this, my husband and I would thank God over and over that he blessed us with the three BOYS that we had!
Then our boys started moving out. First Steve, was initially in and out of our home with attending Missouri School for the Blind starting at age 15. Then he stayed a few months out in the Denver area when he was 18, before moving out there permanently when he was 20 years old. When we moved him out there into his first apartment, I did so good until we were pulling away to drive back home. I think I cried the first couple hours of that drive. Then Sean shortly before he turned 22, he got the opportunity to move in with a couple of friends. We loved having Sean at home so we didn’t encourage this but we tried not to discourage it either. It’s so hard when your kids are young adults, to still try to give guidance but still letting them make their own decisions. Again I did pretty good until moving day. I thought maybe this would be easier since he was staying in town, but between every trip back and forth from our house to his new place, tears were flowing. Then Seth just last year, right before he turned 23, announced that him and friend were looking to rent a place together. When I realized he was serious, I immediately started tearing up. Again we were not ready to have Seth out of the house. I didn’t want to discourage him but I was struggling not to tear up every time we talked about it, shoot every time I just thought about it. I thought it was hard to help the other 2 move out, but this was our youngest, this would make us empty nesters! We had, had kids in our home for 29 years! Lots of tears!
We have had many of our friends that had one or more of their kids move back home at some point. I ask a couple of them, do you cry as hard when they come back as you do when they leave?!
We had to let each of them spread their wings and prove to themselves they could fly on their own. So far we feel very blessed that all the boys have done well out on their own. I know one of the things I hear many empty nesters talk about is it’s not just missing having our kids in the house but having some of their friends in and out as well. The “life” that kids can bring into our homes. We LOVE when all the boys are back home!
In talking with our Pastor and his wife over the last couple of years, we’ve reminded each other that we never stop being parents. We love our kids, we still hurt when they hurt. Our kids still need us to show them how to do adulthood, rather they admit it or not, they are watching! If you are blessed to be a grandparent you have another opportunity to pour into another generation as well. I have heard there are support groups for empty nesters. I am sure those have great benefits for some but you will hear me talk a lot about the importance of strong friendships. As much as we want to be there for our kids in every way, as they get into their late teens and 20’s, I think it’s also important that we always continue to value and work on our friendships, our marriages and other relationships. Talk to others that have gone down this road already, continue to pray for your kids daily, and then look at this as the perfect time to rediscover who you are! What do you want to do with the next 20, 30 years?