With our youngest launched off to college this fall, we are officially empty nesters. When I have mentioned this in conversation with various people, the usual response I get is, “wow, aren’t you lucky! Sell the house now before they return!”
I don’t get it. That is anything but how I feel and if anything, it’s the opposite. Don’t get me wrong – there are a multitude of small things that don’t raise my ire anymore, like tripping over the pile of shoes in the entryway, or the trail of backpacks, school work, dirty socks and hoodies leading from the front door to the pantry, or the front driveway that has looked at times like a used car lot. But, the truth of it is that all these things are indications of what I cherish deeply – the company of my children.
And while I have been anticipating our youngest’s departure with excitement for him in his new journey, I have also recognized that I have been grieving for this transition; fearing the moment when the house will go unawakened in the morning, no longer jolted awake by blaring alarm clocks, squawking radios, and whining blow dryers.
Gathering dust and bed sheets that go undisturbed now mark the time until their return during the holidays. Until then, I am left to my own thoughts about what I was, and was not as a father, and the inevitable dull empty of not being able to do anything more than to ask their forgiveness and remind them that one day they will ask for forgiveness from their own kids.
For what they will be as a parents, and not.