Empty Nested {Almost}

On Saturday we dropped my 13-year-old off with friends; he’s going to vacation with them this week.

And yesterday we dropped my 10-year-old at overnight camp for the week.

camp

Which leaves us at home with only our 7-year-old.

It is eerily quiet in the house without the usual bickering, slamming of doors, friends knocking up, and general hubbub that accompanies a family of five.

Is this a taste of my life to come?

Everyone says it goes so fast, you’ll blink and suddenly the kids are gone. I believe it.

* * *

I saw a young mom at the pool the other day. I watched in amusement as she chased her 2-year-old around the picnic benches for about 5 minutes before she finally wrestled him to the ground and fastened him into his life jacket — which soon came right back off.

My husband and I sat on our recliners watching the circus as it played out before us and had a good laugh at her expense.

Meanwhile, our kids were all happily splashing in the pool, jumping off the diving board and whooshing down the colorful slides — parental supervision no longer necessary at their ripe old ages of 7, 10 and 13.

jump

We remember the “terrible twos” quite well, thankyouverymuch. But they are far behind us now.

* * *

Later when it was time for us to go home, I rounded up the troops and gathered my things. Each child calmly gathered his and her own belongings, and we started to head out just as another young mom was exiting the baby pool.

She had a baby in one arm, and she was holding a toddler in her other hand while dictating to a third child to come back to their seats. Her husband was trailing along behind with a fourth small child in tow.

The mom looked exhausted, but still somehow jolly. Our eyes met, and I felt the need to reassure her somehow. I smiled and said kindly, “It gets easier, I promise!”

She stopped and sighed and returned my smile. “I’d just be happy if they’d SLEEP!” she declared.

“Oh, they will,” I assured her.

“Sure,” she replied with a chuckle. “But by then we’ll just be up all night worrying.”

I laughed and looked at my straggly gang of pre-adolescents and said, “Yeah, well, you’ll get a slight reprieve before that!”

* * *

I’ve been told by older and wiser mom friends that I’m living in the golden years of parenthood right now — I’m past the sleepless nights of infanthood and the harried days of toddlerhood and the torment of potty training. But I have a ways to go before I lay awake at night worrying about teenagers out running the roads.

I admit, life is pretty good right now. I get a full night’s sleep almost every night. We take our kids to restaurants without hopping up every 3 minutes to cut someone’s food or accompany someone to the bathroom. They can dress themselves, toilet themselves, do their own homework and clean up after themselves — not that they choose to do so without much haranguing and cajoling, but that’s another issue entirely. I usually know where they are sleeping and don’t worry about them doing something stupid and coming to harm when I’m not there to protect them.

Except for this week. It’s weird not having them under my roof, not being able to assure myself with a quick peek into their rooms that they are alive and well. I know they are both in highly supervised environments, but it’s still not easy to give up parental control. I dread the day when they’re out partying with teenage friends or away at college without responsible adult supervision.

I might enjoy the peace and quiet, but there’s something unsettling about not knowing exactly where your kids are.

That said, I’m looking forward to a week with less noise and bickering. I know both kids are where they want to be, and I’m happy they’re getting these opportunities.

Meanwhile I have plenty to do to get ready for our vacation next week. Between the laundry, the packing, the cleaning, preparing meals and getting two week’s worth of work done in one, I know this week will fly by and my family will be back together on Saturday in all its glory. Maybe I’ll have a new appreciation for all the ruckus three kids provide.

And now I’m going to brew another cup of coffee and enjoy a few more minutes of serenity while my 7-year-old has the dog and the TV all to herself! Ahh… bliss!