Last week, Steve and I experienced something that hasn’t happened to us in 22 years: six consecutive nights without any children in the house.
In the past couple of years since our oldest son moved out, it has happened once or twice that both of our daughters were invited to sleep-overs and were out of the house on the same night. But I hardly noticed that they were gone before it was time to pick them up the next morning.
However, for the last seven days, Valerie and Jennifer have been on a trip to Mexico with our church’s youth group. So Steve and I have had a small glimpse into a phase of our lives that seemed so far away for so many years, but is actually just around the corner for us – assuming Jennifer goes away to college four years from now and the other two don’t boomerang back home.
Since having the house all-to-ourselves – if you don’t count the cats – was a new experience for us, I wondered what it would feel like to come home from work and not have the girls at home. Would it seem empty and sterile without the energy…and piles of purses, shoes, and laundry…that our two teenage daughters add to the household?
The house certainly felt different; it was quieter, tidier and calmer.
While they were gone, it gave Steve and me the opportunity to spend more time together because our lives weren’t revolving around the girls’ schedule. I wasn’t distracted by whether Jennifer needed to be taken somewhere or what time she needed to be picked up. We could do whatever we wanted to whenever we wanted to.
And it wasn’t as if without the girls at home that we did anything crazy like running around the house naked…now there’s a scary thought…it’s just that while they were gone our relationship wasn’t taking a backseat to their agenda.
Plus, not having the girls at home certainly lightened the load of chores and grocery shopping. I loved coming home to the house just they way I had left it in the morning. There weren’t any new craft projects spread over the coffee table. There weren’t any shreds of Mini-Wheats crunching under my feet. I was done with the Saturday chores in half the time. And since Steve and I are okay living on an assortment of protein bars, I didn’t go to the grocery store once all week.
If I keep going with this line of thinking about how much work kids are, I might start wondering with why we ever decided to have them.
But we’ve got them and we’re grateful for them. It’s just that after a week without hearing the pitter-patter of teenage feet around the house, I found myself thinking that I could get used to this…and without that much difficulty.