With the holidays fast receding the rear view mirror Steve and I looking at the New Year with mixed emotions.

This last Christmas, the first without all three kids around the tree on Christmas morning opening presents, seemed to herald a future where Steve and I are finally done with our nearly three-decade long career of raising children and onto the next chapter of our lives, once again as a couple. Last time this was the case Reagan was in office.

As I write this, Jennifer is winding up her nearly four-week trek through South East Asia. Though we had regular calls and texts, she was effectively on her own handling the many challenges of third-world travel with a maturity that belies her age. Odds are she won’t be moving back into the yellow bedroom with the framed picture of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Her siblings are off building careers and relationships well outside the shadow of mom and dad, so I guess you could say that we did our job as parents. Steve and I should be trading high-fives and booking a Princess cruise on the Rhine.

The truth is we liked the parenting roller-coaster ride, the sense of mission, the on-going soap opera of kid relationships, grade point averages, after-school activities and semester projects. Our calendar was check-marked for nearly 30 years with fund-raisers, parent conferences, chauffeuring kids to and fro, talent shows, graduations, college applications, school visits, summer jobs. I wrote grants to raise funds for the elementary school and participated on the site council. Steve sat on the school board for 12 years.

You could say we’re going through parenting withdrawal. Recovery is a bear.