One Friday night in late August of this year, my husband and I were sitting in separate rooms of the house within sight of the other, quiet and somewhat lonely, if you will. For the first time in over twenty years, we found ourselves childless and abandoned-feeling. The noises of the house were typical noises of a house, the hum of the dishwasher, the clock on fireplace tick-tocking, and the rustle of the newspaper.
But the other noises of the house were deafeningly silent. The shower running for 10, 20, 30 minutes upstairs and the father of the house complaining "she is still in that shower"...yet again. The thunderous rumbling of the nearly 6' teen coming down the stairs in search of her book bag, a glass of water, and to see if there was any popcorn left to snack on. Music coming from the piano, or the violin in hasty practicing, or just a third or 4th voice in the house. No, not tonight, or tomorrow night.....maybe on the weekend, but probably not; they are both just across town at the university, for heaven's sake. But for now stillness and quiet; it's weird and sad at the same time.
There are the perks of this new stage of life, however, most seasoned parents would tell us. We can take trips and eat out more...yeah, yeah. There is just this feeling that life will never be the same again, ever. Our neighbors next door are newly empty nesters too, and I asked the wife out by the mailbox the other day how it was going for them and the empty house. She said, "I don't like it!"
"I know! It is too strange and I'm not ready for this!" I said. We both sympathized with each other and said we should go to dinner sometime soon. I felt vindicated by that conversation; somehow I have never thought of myself as a childless married woman. My vocation and passion has always been being a parent, a mom and busy wife with children undertow, meals to prepare, homework to monitor and music lessons to taxi the young musicians to each week. I look across the parishioners on Sunday and find the couples without children and wonder, should I ask them what it's like to live without children around? Nah, they will think I'm weird.
My husband is content, and so is my neighbor's husband; she told me that her husband was ready for this. I'm not, and wonder if I was supposed to be preparing for this somehow? Well, even if I thought about it, when the real thing hits, you really can't be totally prepared for the loss of your job, or vocation, or livelihood.
Funny thing, after a new minutes on that August evening, my husband's text tone sounded. I asked him who was that? He said, "Rebecca, I asked her how things were going." Just then I received a text from our other daughter, Sarah; I had asked her how things were going. We are on the same page, and somehow, somehow we will get used to this silence....or fill it with pastimes that we will enjoy.... Well, we do have each other... and maybe there will be grandkids, but for now we will just take a day trip on the weekends, eat out a couple of times a week and go bowling.
Copyright 2015 Ebeth.
Photo copyright 2015 Ebeth. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Ebeth Weidner, a Master Catechist and cradle Catholic who considers herself a Catholic information junkie, writes from her heart about the faith and hope she finds in the Catholic Church. She is the author of “A Catholic Mom Climbing the Pillars” blog. She is the wife of a research science Professor and mom to 3 great young adults people living on the coastal side of North Carolina.