As parents we fantasize about being alone without the kids…yes we all do it!
Dreaming about having a night off. Experiencing an evening of bliss when we don’t worry or talk or ponder about our kids. Especially if it happens in the midst of the tough parenting stages, which occurs from the time they’re born until you die. Because parents are never NOT parents. Once we take on the role, it turns into a life-time appointment, like a supreme court judge.
The only trouble with fantasizing about having a night off from parenting is that it’s never as great as we imagine it would be.
Having teenagers in my house means my kids have grown into little adults with whom I can have a conversation with. (As long as their friends are not in close proximity, because that would make them extremely uncool!) The older they get, the more interesting they become. The Wife and I encouraged conversation since they started talking, so they’re fairly comfortable to discuss most of the things that’s happening in their lives. And it is fascinating to listen to the stories they tell. (We are blessed with two kids who talk all the time.)
So when they decide to do other things and leave us alone, like Dude going on a rugby tour and Princess spending the night with her BFF’s, our place of joy becomes a real dreadful space. A boring house where dreams go to die and the air is saturated with emptiness. It’s filled with a longing for overly loud music, complaints about the speed of our Wi-Fi, requests for food, sounds of motorbikes and the voices of friends. We stroll around searching for empty plates, school bags and piles of clothes.
I’m not sure what other couples do when they’re left alone but we couldn’t stay in the house. We went for dinner and wondered what our kids were eating. Then we got home, watch some series and wondered what our kids were doing. And then we went to bed and wondered where our kids were sleeping. Wife even had a dream about Dude surprising us by coming home a day sooner.
Isn’t that the saddest thing you’ve ever heard?
What’s even worse is how we realised that this is how our lives will be when they finally go off to college. And for our youngest that’s only THREE years from now. Dude’s finishing high school next year!
The problem with the mind of a parent is that we never remember the bad stuff, the nasty things. We don’t recall the nappy changes, or the tantrums, or the fights, or the disappointments. We only remember the pride and joy and indescribable love we feel for them. So how do parents retain their sanity when their kids are ready to move on with the next chapter in their lives? How do parents get up every day and not just sit and cry? How do we NOT move to the same city where the kids will choose to study after high school? How do we let them go?
I can only imagine it is by stocking up on barrels of wine and mountains of prescription medication.