My dear one and I are of an age where we are rapidly approaching the “empty nest” time of life.¬† Or, so we would like to believe. ūüôā¬† We are on our fourth teenager, and her entry into high school¬†starts in two days.¬† Our household itself is¬†still large.¬† Basically, there are seven of us under one roof; ten, if you count the dogs.¬† I have three in college, one of whom isn’t ours, and now one in high school.¬† Those three will graduate by or before the youngest hits college, and well, that puts us in countdown mode.¬†¬†As the mother of four children who range from 14 to 29, this has been a long time coming.¬†

For two days, we have had an empty nest trial run.¬† All of our children are out-of-town for various reasons. ¬†It’s so quiet.¬†

I love it.

Now, don’t get me wrong.¬† I also love it when they all gather here to swim, eat, celebrate, or just hang out.¬† But, I can handle the quiet.¬† My dear one and I are happy to just be in each other’s company.¬† A lot has been written about what couples go through when the last child leaves the nest.¬† I’m sure that it will be an emotional experience for us too.¬† But not of mourning or loss.¬† You see, my goal is to raise independent children.¬† Anything less is a disservice to them.¬† With that goal in mind, while my marriage has involved children, it¬†has never been child-centered.¬† Our relationship with each other as husband and wife has always been the foundation of everything else.¬† Oh, there are times that we’ve been caught up in the hectic schedule of children, but we have always seen our relationship as paramount.¬†

Based on my experience I would say that there are three primary things that you need to have to “empty-nest-proof” your marriage:

1. A spouse that you spend exclusive time with on regular dates or other activities.   

2. To see the goal for your children as independence.  Then, when they hit those milestones, it is your victory too.

3. The ability to live your own life, not your children’s.¬†

So, when my children are out of the nest, I will have done my job.¬† I look forward to the times I will still spend with them and the additional grandchildren that I am expecting to be blessed with through them.¬† But, I also look forward to spending more time with just my dear one.¬†¬†After all, he is my best friend and the love of my life.¬† Read the rest of this entry »

In the next few days, I will depart for a family vacation.  Ahead is the promise of fun-filled days of sun, water, amusement park rides, and happy grandchildren discovering the wonder of it all.  Right now is the crashing reality of a dirty house, laundry that needs to be done, shopping for shorts and swimsuits, finding the house/dog sitter, unfinished work assignments, and planning, planning, and more planning.  And not nearly enough time to do it all.

When my children were young, there was more frenetic activity but less complications.¬† We vacationed when we wanted to since homeschooling gave us a freedom from traditional schedules.¬† There was also the advantage of only Bill and I making the decisions.¬† Only our family’s schedule to consider.¬† Of course, there was no way that any vacation with young children can actually be called uncomplicated.

However, if you compare it to family vacations with grown children, it is a whole different set of problems.¬† Adult children have their own lives and schedules.¬† College classes have different start/stop times, different breaks than high school.¬† Jobs require planning and permission to leave.¬†¬†The choices of destination are carefully considered to include everyone’s desires.¬† If there are young children involved, it changes the complexion of the trip.¬† My oldest daughter and I about went crazy trying to work out the logistics, meet everyone’s budget, find the best situation for everyone.¬† Even with all our efforts, it still might not be the whole family together.¬†

Overall, the rewards are great.¬† Anytime you can get your family all on the same page, spending time together, having fun, it’s worth any hassle involved.¬† If your adult children want to spend the time with you still, something is¬†right.¬† There won’t always be a time when these things will work out.¬† Life gets more complicated when children establish their own families.¬†

Life goes on.¬† Children grow.¬† Keep the relationships strong no matter what it takes.¬† And, if they are still all little, don’t forget, they grow up.¬†

 Ecclesiastes 3:1

To every [thing there is] a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: