I used to stroll our three babies through the mall in their extra- long, stadium-style triple stroller. Every few yards, people said, “You really have your hands full,” or, “Better you than me.” Now friends say, “How’re you doing?” and “I’m praying for you,” and “It must be so quiet at your house with a triple empty nest.”
I never would have believed eighteen years could fly by so fast when we were hip deep in diapers but it did. What a carnival it’s been for a quarter of a century with our four kids and their friends everywhere we looked running around and climbing trees like monkeys. At times like a circus crossed with a county fair and at others, like a prep school study center crossed with a music and dance studio. Fast forward through ballgames, choral and band concerts, marching band competitions, dance recitals, church youth group trips and mission work and the time just flew. It’s inconceivable.
Then came senior year and the sympathy questions from friends started and reality set in. One son said in disbelief before graduation, “Mom, I’ll be in college in three months.”
Finally, August came and everything changed. We’d go to the kitchen and there were no crumbs on the counter or bowls in the sink. No heads to rub or bodies to hug.
Nobody said, “Hey Mom, if you’re making an egg, can you make me one too?” Nobody said, “Hey Mom, can you call this out to me while I finish making my lunch?” Nobody said, “Hey Mom, can you sign this form? I got a letter grade off for not bringing it in yesterday.”
It’s the hubby and me and the animals wandering around this big old house and farm. There’s that saying about silence being deafening. I get that.
When the kids first left, friends texted of their thoughts and prayers for us as they knew how huge this instant triple change would be. Their prayers must have been answered because I expected to be out of Kleenex and mopping my floods of tears with paper towels by now while scaring the animals with my wailing. Instead, I’m less weepy than I was in the awful pre-departure period when my eyes puddled at the very mention of the kids leaving.
The animals are taking it pretty hard and stay with me in every room of the house needing consolation and a lap to make furry. So at least I’m still needed. They have a look that says, “Are you two really all we get now?” The dogs want to go in and out of the front door every few minutes just to see if anything has changed. I know the feeling.