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School Break, And the Kids are Back… March 2, 2009

Posted by aetiusromulous in Commentary, Uncategorized.
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burbfam-240x238-brandWe’ve been empty nesters for six months. Both our children went off to university last fall.  Things changed drastically around our house. Dinner, which had always been my favourite time of day, grew suddenly quiet. Uncomfortable with the silence, my husband said, “I’ve got an idea, lets eat at TV tables and watch the news.”  I sighed and rolled my eyes.  We were officially ‘old’.

 Surprisingly though, it didn’t take long for us to adapt to our new lifestyle.  Before long, I found myself cheerfully hollering “Dinner! Set up the tables.” Our morning routine changed as well. There were no longer four of us fighting for the bathroom and bumping into each other in the kitchen. My husband has his breakfast while listening to the sports in one room, while I have mine watching the news in another. When he gets home from work at the end of the day, he goes directly to his computer downstairs while I am on mine upstairs. It’s all so civilized. I actually feel a little guilty. I’ve heard of some mothers who occasionally sit alone in their child’s empty room feeling sad after they’ve left, but I haven’t done that. I stop to look in their rooms occasionally, but only to admire how clean they are. Yes, life is good.

 Well, it’s time to adjust once again. It’s reading week, which means the kids are home for a one- week break. They’re still on university time, keeping late hours and sleeping in all morning. My schedule has been completely turned upside down, and the house has too. The usually tidy entranceway is strewn with boots, coats and mitts. The bathroom is a mess and there are always dirty dishes. I struggle to plan dinner around everyone’s schedule and constantly jockey the vehicles around, between loads of laundry. My daughter complained there was no food in the house, and when my son looked in the cupboard he shrieked, “All you have is old people food.” Needless to say, our shelves were quickly replenished with sugary cereal and the kind of snacks I’d learned to live without.

 We attempted to sit down, the four of us, to watch a movie. It had just started when my son’s cell went off, as did my daughter’s MSN. The kids were up and down, texting and e-mailing.  I could see the frustration growing on my husband’s face, so when my girlfriend called and asked, “Do you feel like a glass of wine?” I was out of there. My son left to pick up his girlfriend, my daughter went to call her boyfriend and my husband watched the movie alone.

 Seriously though, it’s been great having them home. The sound of my son playing the piano fills the house and the phone hasn’t stopped ringing.  Their friends are coming and going and there are lots of laughs. Although noticeably smaller than last week, our house is alive once again. My daughter and I have resumed our daily two-mile walk-and-talk routine. And when the kids get in after a late night out, I get up, and we sit and talk and share lots of laughs. They’re not the same kids we sent off to school months ago; now they’re confident young adults. Although they share the same crazy sense of humour, they have entirely different views of the world. It’s so interesting to rediscover my kids. I couldn’t be more proud of whom they’ve become.

 But now, the week has flown by and they’re packing up to leave. I can’t help but wonder if I spent enough time with them.  Should I have pre-cooked meals to send back with them? Do we as mothers, ever feel we’ve done enough?

 We say our goodbyes and hug a few times. My husband and I stand at the window and watch as our lives pull away. They should be calling in two hours to say they’ve arrived safely.  The car disappears down the road and I look at my husband, with tears in my eyes. He makes a careless remark and we start to laugh. I grab the nearest cushion and start hammering him with it, he grabs another and starts hitting me back.

 “Let’s get it out!” I yell.  “We’ve got the house to ourselves again!”

 If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a parent, in order to keep your kids close, you have to be willing to let them go. If we’ve done our job right, they’ll be fine.

 And as my husband goes to set up the TV tables, I smile and realize; we’ll be fine too.

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