What do you do when the Kids are gone?
My wife and I decided to have children at an early stage in our marriage. By today’s standards I suppose that’s horse and buggy thinking? None-the-less we began to try to have children within the first year of our marriage. We simply didn’t want to be middle aged parents raising toddlers. I couldn’t imagine changing diapers and going to kindergarten at 40! The humanity! After a few snags and three years later our son was born. I will never forget the first time I saw his face and heard that little moan he let out while holding him in my arms. Then three years later our daughter was born. No little moans from her! She came out kicking and screaming!
Time has an exceptionally complex perspective. While raising my children through the good times and bad I often wondered, “Will this ever get any better?” Now that they are gone I wonder, “Where did the time go?” My son is in the Air Force and my daughter is at college. So now it’s just the two of us again. Now what do we do?
At first we were excited and fell in love all over again. We did a lot of things together with just the two of us that we haven’t done for a long time. We went for walks in the park or the mall, dinner and a movie and long country drives in the convertible. Often though, when I would settle down in the evening, reflection began to set in as I would stare at the children’s pictures. I felt so sad that they were gone. I felt so empty inside that my two little heartbeats were now all grown up. It really began to make me sad.
I tried to suppress my feelings and began to occupy my time in true dad fashion and just kept busy with work and fishing. Quite often though, whenever I settled down for the evening, I would start to reflect and stare at the photos. It really began to weigh on my wife’s feelings that I was so down and saddened by their absence. Then I realized that I was beginning to ignore the very person that I held most dear and wanted to spend the rest of my life. But being the wonderful wife that she is, she always stayed right by my side. I couldn’t find my socks without that gal!
It took a while but I finally I figured it out! I recalled that the very reason that we had our children early in life was so that we could enjoy each other while we were still relatively young. Yes, life does continue after 40! You don’t realize how young 40 is until you actually reach the age of 40. So I simply made it up in my mind that I was getting out of this hole that I was in and start enjoying the one best friend that I have, my wife. I regret losing sight of that and am very glad that I refocused my attention to the one person that I hold most dear to my heart.
We not only continued our walks, dinner dates and country drives in the convertible but I actually convinced her to go fishing with me! I thought that the world was going to stop spinning when she agreed! I just had to promise to bait and take the fish off the hook. She began to practice the lessons I taught her and pretty soon she was ready to get her fishing license and out catch the old man. By golly that first few days, that’s exactly what she did too! Once I saw how excited she was with that first catch I knew she was (if you’ll pardon the pun) hooked! I posted a photo of her fishing and stated that “I think I got her hooked?” I favored a comment by one of my friends, an older gentleman who said, “Way to go! Way to look ahead!” I think she enjoys the hiking and sightseeing just as much, if not more than the fishing. She was quite taken when she first saw the bald eagles flying around the lake and the size of the cranes.
It’s amazing what you miss when raising kids. You’re so focused on spending time with them that you sometimes, literally in our case; don’t see the forest for the trees. All these years living around a beautiful lake and we could count on one hand the times we actually enjoyed it. Until now!
We now often find time to go and take short hikes and fish. If she doesn’t feel like fishing she will just sit in read from a book that we throw in the backpack. I’m rather excited about sharing the sights and places that I have discovered with her. I’ve spent a lot of time scouting the lake and have a really good bead on the nicer sights to see and places to fish. I can tell that she really enjoys herself!
Whether it’s fishing and hiking or country drives and long walks, one thing is for certain. Life does continue after the kids are gone. Just remember to focus on your significant other. Find something that you both can enjoy and do together. It can be anything that you both have an interest in. After all, you two started this roller coaster ride together. You both might as well enjoy the last few miles of track!