We’re officially “empty nesters”!
Yes, it’s true, as of today, we’re officially “empty nesters”! Well, maybe not completely as Chris Jr. will stop by tomorrow on his way back from a Colt’s game where we’ll say our official goodbyes. Last week, we dropped Kylie off at IUPUI as she begins her freshmen year! We’ve only seen her twice this week…ha ha…she’s doing awesome!
Chris Jr. is starting his junior year at Purdue studying Industrial Engineering. Last week, we moved most of his stuff up to his house where he’ll live the next couple years on campus. Many may recall the events of his first semester at Purdue a couple years ago and we’re thankful things have calmed down dramatically in his life (for part of the story read Toughest Kid I Know). He has himself a girlfriend who we also love dearly and life is pretty good right now.
Kylie started her freshmen year last weekend with IUPUI’s Summer Bridge program where she’s studying education. As noted above, we’ve seen her smiling face for a couple brief moments dropping off things in the parking lot over the course of the week. We were able to video chat with her last night and she seems to be doing really well for which we expected nothing but that to be the case. As we left her last week, I held it together pretty well as I don’t think she, nor the rest of the family, saw me tear up after hugging her and walking away. It was almost an emotional breakdown; however, I was able to catch myself and stay strong for the family!
So, now this “empty nester” thing, what’s is going to be like? Well, as much as a roller coaster ride we’re expecting, we’re pretty certain we’re going to be alright. First of all, as a parent, one desires to look backwards and know that they have done their job well. It’s not that we’ve done everything right (just ask our kids); however, most feedback has been that, overall all, we’ve done “well”. For me, now is a time to look back with thanksgiving. Here are just a few thankful thoughts that come to mind:
- I’m thankful for children that truly love their parents and express it in their own way. During the teen years, there were some challenges; however, our kids express their love and appreciation for us which does not go unnoticed.
- I’m thankful that I, to some extent, took “retirement” in my midlife. While it wasn’t “retirement”, I de-emphasized career and began to truly place God and family first in my life. This will never be a decision I look back upon with regret even though it didn’t make the most sense financially.
- I’m thankful I was home when my children both went through what hopefully will be the toughest circumstances in their lives between physical, emotional, and spiritual battles. I thankful I didn’t miss a doctors appointment, ER visit, surgery, and was there to love and encourage my son as he lost the dream of athletics. I’m thankful that during a period of time my daughter was questioning whether or not “life” was really worth it, I was there to take the punches she was delivering due to her intense pain and suffer, search for help, and do whatever it took to insure we got the help we needed to get through it. I’m thankful that in both kids cases, we’re hopefully well on the way to the other side.
- I’m thankful that, in their own way, our kids both know Jesus. I say “in their own way” as circumstance have taught us that Christianity doesn’t always look the same and that’s OKAY! Our kids spiritual journey’s look completely different. They both have been through times of challenge in their faith and grown as a result. Through their journeys, I’ve also grown greatly in my own faith and understanding of what it means to be a Father.
- I’m thankful for the lessons in leadership my kids have taught me along the way. People ask me where I’ve learned the most in leadership expecting a response from my workplace example. Without hesitation, I always tell them “hands down leading a family has taught me the most about leadership”.
- I’m thankful for the way my kids treat their “Mamma”! Mamma is Daddy’s prize possession and it’s always rewarding to see her loved and cared for in the right way.
- I’m thankful that Lisa and I have always put our marriage first behind our relationship with Christ. While we love our kids dearly in a way indescribable to those who have never experienced it, we’ve always given priority to the union of “two becoming one”.
- I’m thankful in raising our kids, Lisa and I always did our best to insure our kids saw us unified. I can remember very few times as parents that our kids have observed us as parents non-unified in decision-making or response to circumstances. There were plenty of discussions behind the scenes and wrestling with how to respond to individual circumstance; however, we always attempt to lead as “one”.
I could likely go on for hours being thankful and my family would be worth it. This all being offered, I hope you can relate. Oh, prior to moving on, maybe I should list a few others:
- I’m thankful that I’ll not have to put any of the kid’s dishes in the dishwasher or do their laundry.
- I’m thankful that I can now walk by our “guest” bedroom and not cringe when it was our “daughter’s” bedroom with stuff everywhere. (I know this too shall pass and I’ll break down in tears one day as I walk by wishing it was once again a mess….or NOT!)
- I’m thankful I can get up in the morning on turn on the lights to make coffee and begin my morning time with our Heavenly Father without concern for the boy sleeping on the other side of the half wall in the den.
- I’m thankful to know that we only have a few more years of paying for those cars, cell phones, auto insurance, health insurance, etc. and, hopefully, school loans.
- I’m thankful that Mom and Dad can plan (or not) a special evening without concern of where the kids are! (wink, wink)
- I’m thankful I rarely have to watch and hear Mamma ask what the kids want for dinner with little response and complaining when she finally picks something to place in front of them on the table. She knows I’ll eat anything!
- I’m thankful that I no longer have a vote when it comes to whether or not my daughter gets a tattoo or piercing. It’s not that I don’t care it’s simply the relief that comes from it not needing parent approval. (And, yes, Kylie, I do believe they are all beautiful as are you!)
- I’m thankful we can lay are head on the pillow at night without worry of everyone being back in the “nest” prior to fully relaxing.
To the point of “without worry”, while we know our kids will still make mistakes along the way, I feel Lisa and I have done our best to “train up a child in the way they should go” (Proverbs 22:6). Kylie is noted for saying “College, ….it’s like adult world in bubble wrap” which is so true. With the combination of “training” and “bubble wrap” that our children have, I don’t offer worry about what lies ahead.
Oh, as for Lisa and I, we’ll pick back up on that another day! Right now, we’re likely going to enjoy the moment. We’re also pondering celebrating with a 25th Anniversary/Empty Nester cruise in October. As we’re broke, all donations and offerings are greatly appreciated!
I suspect some reading are in the mist of the child raising experience. Allow me to leave you with an emphasis you likely regularly hear. “It goes fast, so enjoy it!” For most 18 years or so is only 1/4 of our lives which we get the reward of experiencing what it means to have a child in our “nest”. You’ll never regret the times you invest in these relationship above sacrifices you have to make in your career, own desires, or the likes. As I looked at the pictures on the wall this morning, it’s a reminder of the joy it’s been and the reality that I’ll never have these year back to do it again. And, yes, there were tears as I experienced this thought!
We love you Christopher and Kylie! Thanks for who you are and are becoming! “Oh the places you’ll go!!!”
Love, Dad and Mom