As we watched Zack and his friends last night enjoying their final high school formal festivities, it’s just one more reminder that Darren and I will soon be empty nesters. We are closing in on the end of our eighth and final year of high school shenanigans with our boys. Like all the other parents at the roof-top photo session, we wondered, “Where does the time go?” I don’t know where it goes, but I know how it goes. Fast.
Four years ago, when Jake was at this point, my heart constantly felt the squeeze of reality that our oldest baby would soon be leaving home. We dealt with the constant rub of me wanting to hang on tight and him wanting to stand tall on his own. Happily we (ok, I) didn’t have too many melt-downs, but I admit there were a few, especially when free-spirit Jake wanted to play his guitar or go for a run when we had scholarships to apply for and he still had school work to do! In truth, though, we always enjoyed Jake’s company…he was still fun for us to be around and that made the transition a little tougher.
Wiser parents who’d gone before promised us we’d be alright and reminded me that “this is what we want”! Really? I wasn’t so sure.
During the past four years, though, we learned a lot. We learned to be thankful our boy was going to school just two hours from home; we learned how important family is to Jake when he continued to stay in touch with us and his grandparents; and we learned that, just like every stage before, “this stage of parenthood is ‘the best.’”
So now, here we sit, going through this again – for the last time. This time it’s for real! Zack will also be going to Cal Poly, just like Jake, so we kind of know how it all works. Zack asks if I think this will be easier, or harder, than when Jake left. Different, it will be different. Because now (cue scary music here) it will be just Darren and me.
Every time Darren and I are on our own lately, we call it “practicing for our empty nest.” Zack studies in his room, we watch whatever we want on television; Zack goes to a boys basketball game, we go watch our friends’ daughter play basketball; Zack goes to Panera to study, we go to CPK for dinner. Ok, these might be baby steps, but we’re working on it! Even Zack says he likes to see us try new things and go out with friends…hmmm…perhaps a bit of son-leaving-home guilt? Naw, just another example of why we like that kid so much.
I’m not going to say this is going to be easy. I know it won’t. But as we enter the next season in our life, I’m excited for our boys, and I might even be a little excited for us, too.