My house is quiet again - calm, peaceful and oh-so-very quiet. Reading Week is over, my two fledglings have flown the coop, and once again my husband & I are empty nesters.
Since our youngest went off to university last September, we've slowly adjusted to having the house to ourselves. It certainly has it's benefits - our walls no longer vibrate to the beat of rap music, my grocery bill is considerably less, my husband & I have our freedom back, and after decades of trying to set a good example I can finally say, out loud and with passion, "F**k it!"
It was not an easy adjustment though. In the weeks leading up to his departure, I was plagued by dreams - not dreams of my strapping eighteen-year-old who now towers over me, but dreams of an infant son, my baby boy. I had dreams where I misplaced my baby and couldn't find him anywhere; I had dreams where I was forced to give my baby away; and once, I dreamt my baby boy was born with two front teeth and was walking and talking by the end of his first day. In my dream I asked him, "Can't you just stay a baby?" And he replied, "But I'm ready."
And he was ready. He was my shy, quiet, slightly-bewildered boy who had never spent any real time apart from us, but he was ready. As I hugged him good-bye on the steps of the university that was to be his home for the next 4 years, I was filled with a mixture of worry and hope and pride and grief that's unique to mothers who have to say good-bye to their children, trusting that everything you've taught them will be enough to carry them on ahead without you.
So this week, it was a pleasure to have both of our children return home for a visit during their week off from their studies. My daughter arrived with a whirlwind of energy, her arms laden with textbooks and her mind full of plans for her week off. My son, after making a bee-line to the fridge, turned and looked about him saying, "The house looks smaller."
The liveliness and boisterousness they brought with them was short-lived. Now they're gone and our house is again peaceful and oh-so-very quiet. I sit and look about this quiet house, and I think about my son and the confident young man he has grown into. And then it hits me. The house is not smaller; it's my son that's outgrown it.