Empty Nesters? Not True.

I’m lying in bed waiting to fall asleep.  But there’s one problem.

It’s too quiet. 

My light sleeper ears aren’t picking up laughter, water running or doors shutting.  Yet my hearing radar is still working overtime.  Remember that old Simon and Garfunkel song, “The Sound of Silence”?

Well, it’s playing now every night in the Crosby home.

In a two-month whirlwind span, our children moved out.  We went from a household of four to a household of two (not including the dog).  Son number one moved out of state for a job; son number two moved up the state to attend college.

What happened to our happy family?  Remember that lyric from Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life”:

“You’re riding high in April, shot down in May.”  That’s how I feel though April lasted 23 years, 23 years of parenthood.

The last time my wife and I had the house all to ourselves we weren’t even living in this house.  We’d have to travel back to our first abode when, except for the final few months, we were just a couple of newlyweds.

For the first three years of our marriage, we were only two until we got a dog who was our surrogate son.  Thirteen months later, our first baby was born.

When we were budding parents, we read all the books about child rearing, heard all the advice from friends and family, “It’s going to go fast and then your kids will be gone.”

Now I know how true that is.  In the middle of the day-to-day parenting business, shuttling kids to school, taking them to baseball and music practice, going on summer vacations to national parks—you fool yourself that this is the rest of your life.  But no. 

At some point, the birdies need to leave the nest.  Our first son stayed with us for over 23 years; our second almost 19 years.

People tell us that after a while of living alone as a couple, we will enjoy spending time with just one another.  Oh, I know we will.  It’s just more exhilarating to share your life with your children.

What runs through my mind is the saying “the gift of life.”  I am now feeling how deep down true that idea is.  My wife and I are so blessed that we were able to bring into the world two people so that they can have a life of their own.  Passing that gift down is the greatest inheritance a parent can leave a child.  Empty nesters?  Naw, more like full family tree.

Right before going to bed on our second night of empty nest-hood, my wife shared a text from her mom who contacted our college son to see how dorm life was treating him.  It turns out that he (playing a sax) and his roommate (playing a keyboard) had an impromptu jazz session which attracted a crowd.

That message was my melatonin.  I don’t remember trying to fall asleep for I knew that my son was doing just fine.

Moving Pieces

[Note to Readers: If you were wondering what happened to my bi-weekly posts, my life got incredibly busy the past several weeks as you will read.]

I will always remember this week in May for the rest of my life.  One day, my son has his college commencement, and by the end of the week, my other son will have his high school commencement.  And I am a nervous wreck.  Because not only are they both graduating, they both will be leaving home within a couple of months of each other, leaving my wife and I empty nesters.

The oldest just got his first job in his career after graduating college.  However, he will have to move to Salt Lake City. 

The youngest just accepted admission to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.  However, he will have to move to the Central Coast.

All of this is positive, good stuff for sure.

So why the stomach aches and sleepless nights?

Because I am a parent.

Since I’m the world’s worst worry wart, I lay there in bed each night wondering:  Is there anything else that I should teach my sons about life before my parenting influence expires?

Lately at birthday dinners and Mother’s day, I have made it a point to inform my family that “this may be the last time we four are all together.”

It sounds melancholy, but I want every one of us to absorb and appreciate the final moments as the lifespan of the four-member Crosby household comes to a close.

Of course, hopefully our sons will add to the mix partners and grandchildren.

In the meantime, my wife and I will play our version of Back to the Future as we return to the early years of marriage, just the two of us.

I knew this day was going to come, but I didn’t expect it to happen so quickly.

I’ve spent so much time preparing my children for their independent life that I paid little attention to how we will live our life without them.