The Empty Nest, Being Semi-Retired as a Parent

So as I mentionned in the last post, our youngest son left for college this year, leaving us semi-retired as parents. I say semi-retired because Dan still depends on us in many ways — financial being the most obvious, but he still looks for guidance and we still see him, talk to him, or write him quite a bit.

Neither John nor I was ready to retire from parenting, not even semi-retire. But the tough thing about the job of parenting is it comes in kind of enormous commitments. You can’t decide to continue on for just another year or two. Even the Army tour of dury (some MIGHT argue that was a harder job) only lasts 2 or 3 years, right? But parenting comes for 18+ years.

Sure, you can overlap the years you raise your children. Most folks do. But that’s not the same as simply extending the time you spend parenting your existing kids.

I’m sure someone who has a 30-something year old child still living at home with them will write me and volunteer to pack him or her off to my house. I guess I wasn’t thinking about parenting overgrown children, that give people the urge to push them out of the nest. I was thinking more of the parenting you do as your children grow up. Here’s just a couple of items that I’m missing

– cooking dinner no longer feels like an altruistic activity
– the funny perspective a child often has when they encounter something which you’ve even stopped noticing
– watching the rapid development — the kid who can’t throw the ball from first base to second, who throws down the runner after making a catch which no one expected

“I love you Mom” I miss hearing it actually spoken. Since most of Dan’s calls home are made amongst his peers, I often have to take the fact that he is calling as a message and statement in itself.

And of course, any parent and children’s writer will relate… I miss having another reason to hang out and read the books in the kids section of the bookstore!

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