The Roller Coaster

Empty nest

For nearly the past week our children have been up north visiting grandparents and aunts and uncles. Gina and I have stayed home to tend to work, take care of chores around the house, etc. (It’s the “etc.” that was the good part!)

With five kids Gina and I have our hands (and minds) full most of the time. We do have a pretty busy household. It can get messy around here too. Having five kids (three of them teenagers) will tend to raise the level of clutter and noise to a house. It’s not for everyone that’s for sure. I’ve seen the faces of friends or relatives when they come to visit. That “there but for the grace of God go I” look. Most days I just close the French doors of my home office as tightly as I can and keep my head down.

It often seems as though we really can’t see much past the next hour or two. Friends and family call us to ask if we want to go to a movie three days from now and we are left with a confused look on our face. “Three days from now…? That’s not even on our radar yet!”

For the past week, however, we’ve been given a glimpse into the future, to a time when the kids are grown and out of the nest. I’m here to tell you it is a very different world. One where clean rooms stay clean and full refrigerators that stay (mostly) full. It’s a world where, when I worked in my office I kept both doors wide open! The Sun bathed the room with it’s warm light and the top few papers on my desk fluttered in the gentle breeze from the open windows. I got so much work done!

One late afternoon Gina asked, “What do you feel like doing tonight?”

“What?!” I exclaimed. “What do I feel like doing???” I didn’t know how long it had been since I actually had a choice in the matter.

It was a most productive week, and a fairly romantic one as well. Thanks to the great weather Gina and I were able to eat at outside cafes three times. A couple of mornings we actually slept in. I tell you it was a small slice of heaven.

However, the kids are home now. Our little taste of the future is over. They have been home for less than three hours and the kitchen is a nightmare, the laundry basket is overflowing in the hallway and there has already been a fight over the shower.

One of my favorite movies from “back in the day” (in case that matters, I think the day was a Wednesday by the way) was Ron Howard’s Parenthood. If you remember the movie, Steve Martin plays a dad who is getting overwhelmed by the “mess” of a big family. His grandmother tells him a story about a roller coaster that seems to him to be a total non sequitur. Instead it is exactly the truth about his life.

It was interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled… all together. Some didn’t like it. They went on the Merry-go-Round. That just goes around… Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.

I get that. Truth be told, for the past week, I’ve missed that old coaster.

Don’t get me wrong, when our youngest two children graduate from high school 2,477 days from now (yes, I counted!) I imagine the time for roller coasters will have passed and I will be ready for my turn on the Merry-go-Round.

For now, I think I’ll leave my office doors open and enjoy this ride.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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2 thoughts on “The Roller Coaster

  1. I remember that part of Parenthood just as you quoted it. I even had a third kid so that our house would always be bustling. Now that one (our oldest) went away to school just last week, our nest is slightly smaller and quieter. It goes faster than you can ever imagine. For now, give me a roller coaster ride too!

  2. S W E E T! So nice that you can reflect on this time & recognize the beauty & value in each & every day. Having said that, am sooo glad that you guys had some time to allow for this reflection :-)