Many years ago, when we were new parents we had to take a class before our babies could be baptized. In one of those classes, a very wise priest gave us some valuable advice. Here is the gist of it. Being parents is important and will be all consuming for a long time. Never forget that some day this child will grow up and leave you. That's what they're supposed to do. The relationship that must survive is the relationship with your spouse. Be sure you take care of that relationship. When this child grows up and leaves you, and it will grow up and leave you, make sure you still have a relationship with your spouse.
You may have guessed by now, Grams and her Darling Husband, aka Grandad, are empty nesters. Our two chicks flew the coop long ago.
We started our family about 4 years after we married. Our eldest was born in 1979 and our baby in 1981. In 1984, when our oldest was about to start school, we moved to Calallen because we knew they had great schools. Our little neighborhood is located at the very back of the subdivision and there is only one way in and out. Many of us have lived here for more than 20 years. It was a great place to raise our kids. They could never do anything that the neighbors didn't tell us about, usually before they got home. We all watched out for each other's kids. My sister says Calallen is like Stepford for people with kids. We're all wrapped up in our kids' school and extra-curricular activities. We love that aspect of living here.
For the next 20 years we wholeheartedly embraced raising kids. If our kids were involved in anything, we were there. We coached youth sports, we sat through hundreds (maybe even thousands) of practices, we taught religious education, we joined the PTA, we were officers in booster clubs, we worked concession stands, we sold candy and raffle tickets. We went to hundreds of basketball games, football games, baseball games, soccer games, track meets and kickball games. Whatever they did, we did. You get the picture. Our kids were our whole world.
Fast forward to 2000 when our baby left for college. When our kids left home, so did our social life. Everything we had been involved in was finished. Couple this with the fact that our best friends, who coincidentally were married to each other, got a divorce at about this time. We literally had lost our best friends. We sat down in the living room, looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders. What do we do now?
We've never had what I would consider a lot of friends. Most of our friends were people we knew through our kids. Basically, we have always done everything together as a couple. After a few weeks of feeling sorry for ourselves, we realized that something had to change and, if it was going to change, we had to change it.
It took a while, but we overcame. We re-instituted date night. Once a week we go out together. On Friday nights, instead of the football or basketball games, we go out to dinner with a group of neighbors. Thursday night has become pizza night. We either order delivery or go to a local pizza place with friends. Sunday after church we often go out for brunch with family. And we've become movie fanatics. Most weekends will find us, often with brother and sister-in-law, at our local movie theater taking in the newest release.
I won't kid you. My kids leaving home was one of the most difficult things I've endured. I cried all the way home from UTSA when we took our oldest child to school. I wept like a baby when I scraped the He-Man and Rainbo Brite stickers from the windows in their bedrooms. I miss going to high school basketball games. But I've grown to love it. That's right, I love my empty nest. It definitely has it's advantages. I've converted one of the bedrooms into my own sewing, craft and computer room. I've remodeled the kid's bathroom for myself, complete with a crystal chandelier. Having no kids at home has many advantages. Grandad will eat whatever I cook with no complaints ... and I hardly ever have to yell at him to turn the stereo down.