All those summers you thought you had with your kids? 18 summers are a lie.
It’s easy to get nostalgic about the dwindling summers we have with our children but what happens when they end? You won’t find the answer in a parenting book but I’ll let you in on my secret: Instead of pining for my kids while they’re away, my husband and I are practicing being empty nesters and having our own fun!
Last year when our tween and teen were away for the same week during the summer, my husband and I got a taste of what it would be like as empty nesters. We hit the happy hour circuit, enjoying delectable discounted sips and bites at downtown DC restaurants we can’t seem visit during the school year and * gasp * talking about topics other than the kids. We felt a little guilty about enjoying our time together until we realized they were having a blast without us too.
No one really tells you this, but it’s ok to not to pine for your kids while they’re away.
You can miss them but you’re not allowed to miss the responsibilities that go along with parenting them when they’re not there. Sure, the house feels empty when it’s not occupied by their footsteps, laughter, and shouts to put down the devices for dinner, but don’t feel guilty about having your own fun!
This year we were back on the happy hour circuit but stepped up our trial empty nester status by taking a long weekend to explore different parts of Western Maryland and cross a visit to Falling Water off our bucket list.
As I sat in the passenger seat while my husband drove the backroads in Pennsylvania, I thought about what our summers used to be like versus what they’re like now.
Summers that were once filled with day camps, nap times, and lots of time together at home have morphed into ones where my tween and teen spend more nights sleeping in beds that aren’t their own. Sunday afternoons and evenings we used to spend at the pool are now occupied by repacking freshly laundered items into duffel bags and frame packs for the next week’s adventures but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
With the heat of the summer sun on my face contrasting with cool air radiating from my seat and our car pointed in the direction of home, I thought about the 18 summers the internet told us we had with our kids.
We believed we had 18 summers but were there ever really 18 to begin with?
I’m beginning to think it was all a ruse.
My dependent kids have become independent ones who enjoy pursing their own interests. The adventures and the experiences they’re having while away are just as important as the ones my husband and I are enjoying together while they’re gone. While they’re developing independence, confidence, and other essential lifelong skills necessary for growing up, they’re also preparing me to let go.
In just four years our oldest will graduate from high school and is likely to head off to college. Two years after that, her brother will do the same. During the coming summers, both will continue to spend more time away from home than in it.
My husband and I have worked hard to cultivate their independent spirit, love of travel, and desire to explore. I’m proud of the confident individuals who are growing up before my eyes. whose futures could be full of far flung adventures. I’m certainly cherishing the dwindling summers and the limited time we have together but when my husband and I truly become empty nesters, I have no doubt we’ll embrace our own adventures too.
All opinions are my own. Travel and experiences mentioned in this post were personally paid for.