By September 1, 2018 my home was empty. Weeks passed and Thanksgiving was approaching before I could figure out exactly why the house felt so desolate. The obvious answer was the departure for college by my two children. But, it was more. It was the quiet.
At the beginning of this new life without daily parenting, I was sincerely shocked and even surprised. Why hadn’t I seen this time coming? I should have known what to expect. After all, this empty nest was years in the making.
Infant years full of sleepless nights, and spit ups. Toddler years with make believe, quick growth and milestones. Elementary and middle school years packed with hockey, lacrosse, soccer, baseball, music lessons, church commitments and Boy Scouts. Teen years that introduced emotions requiring not so much the physical support, but attention and nurturing with a more distinct psychological intention.
In reality, the stages of these eighteen years tumbled together. Seamlessly flowing, not obvious in their smooth transitions. Then, the final rush like an angry river growing ever stronger with a raging current. The challenge of keeping us all afloat through the push of college entrance exams, college visits, college applications. Heartbreaking news saying “denied”. Exciting news saying, “accepted”. Graduation, celebrations. Packing lists, shopping trips, college drop off.
Laughter, joy, jokes and good humored teasing reemerged within minutes of the homecoming of my two sons. The dinner table was full, not only with a favorite meal, but with fun. Their friends filled the kitchen with boisterous conversation and take out sandwiches. The dishwasher and washing machine were in full use again and filled the air with electronic humming. The Xbox came alive.
As the months pass and freshman year quickly builds to an end, the pattern has repeated. But I am still not used to the quiet.
By Ginny Gilman