Sunday, July 03, 2011

Empty Nesters

It is so weird to have no children at home. Sometimes it just feels like Sarah is gone to girls camp or something and that she'll be home at the end of the week but then other times reality sets in that this is it. We've moved on to a new phase of our lives. From now on all we get is visits. I've always tucked the kids in before I go to bed. With some of them I've done that right up until they left home. Last night I went to tuck Sarah in and then I remembered that the bedrooms are all empty. How sad. I guess the bedrooms aren't exactly empty, one has turtles in it and the other one has a snake but they aren't all that fun to tuck in at night. The other problem I'm facing is that we've got to leave the door open for Sheba or she sits outside the door and cries all night. 
In spite of missing the kids I do have to admit that there is a certain freedom in being empty nesters. I come home in the evening and I have no commitment to do anything. I don't have to go to any football games, no band concerts, no scouts, no mutual, no homework, no awards banquets no nothing. The only person I have to keep happy right now is my wife and she's pretty low maintenance. 
As a tribute to this new phase of my life I thought I'd take you all on a trip down memory lane.
Here we are on our wedding day. July 11, 1981. That will be thirty years ago this week. We have no children.
1982 - Just a little over a year later and here we are with one child. We couldn't have been happier to have sweet little Kira in our lives.
1984 - Two years later and our family has doubled in size. We now have two children. Since Brandon joined our family life has always been exciting. He loves life. It was pointed out to us that some consider a family with one boy and one girl to be the perfect family. We figured that we needed more excitement in our lives than that.
1986 - My family is growing and my hairline is receding.
Ben just has to be the happiest baby I've ever seen. As long as you keep food in his belly he is content. Not much has changed.

1989 - It was another three years before Alycia joined us.
From the time she was born Alycia has been the life of the party. Everyone has more fun if Alycia is around. Again it was pointed out to us that four children is a large family now days. We had two boys and two girls and we should just count our blessings and enjoy our family. Well we figured there were more blessings waiting for us. 
1991 - Two years later one of those blessings arrived. Alex always had to be going somewhere or doing something. Can't you tell just by looking at him on his mothers lap that he wants to be going some place? He hasn't changed much, even today Alex is always doing something. You can especially see it in the kind of missionary he is.
1993 - With the arrival of Sarah our family was complete.
Alex's delivery was a very difficult one and we decided that perhaps it was time to quit.   It wasn't long however before we just knew that there was one more little spirit out there wanting to come and be a part of our family. We decided to put our faith in the Lord and have one more child. The Lord rewarded our faith with the perfect pregnancy, perfect delivery, perfect child.
2000 - Once Kira was a senior in High School we knew that the complete family we had enjoyed for seven years was about to change. We made the decision to invest in a family portrait in an attempt to freeze that moment in time. Anyone who has been to our home will recognize this picture as a copy of the life size portrait we have on our wall. 
2001 - The one thing that is certain is that everything in this life must eventually come to an end.  Kira graduated from High School and went off to college. From now on, anytime she came home she was more of a visitor than a regular part of our family. It was very difficult for me to let her go but I knew that is how it is supposed to be. I know she wasn't really gone but it still hurt a lot.
2002 - Once Kira left home it was like domino's falling. Before I knew it Brandon was leaving.  Maybe it was because I'd already gone through this with Kira or maybe because it is different with a boy but it wasn't nearly as painful for me to let Brandon go. It was also partly because Brandon was so ready to go. He's always been a very independent child and it was a lot of fun to see him go out and tackle life with all of that enthusiasm that he has. It was however very difficult when he left on his mission.
2004 - Ben was the first of our children who really didn't want to leave home. He would have been quite content to just stay at home. As with everything he does though, once he's made up his mind to do something he gives it everything he's got. I think he was quite surprised (but I wasn't) to head off to college and get the best grades of his life. I felt a significant absence in my life when both Brandon and Ben were on their missions at the same time. 
2007 - When Alycia left home things were very different around here.
Mostly they were much more quiet.  We really missed her enthusiasm for life.  With only two kids at home we were blessed with the opportunity to get to know Alex and Sarah very well.
2009 - And then Sarah was an only child.
She hated it. While she thoroughly enjoy our almost excessive one-on-one attention, she really missed the noise and commotion that she'd grown up with. She also missed Alex. With just Alex and Sarah home she'd grown very close to him.  Alex had made a point of including her in everything he did at seminary, school, church and at home and it made a huge impact on her. Alex on the other hand faced life in the outside world with the same enthusiasm that he faced life at home. He kept himself constantly busy and I think it really shows in the kind of missionary he is.
2011 - And then we were alone.
Dropping Sarah off to college was very difficult. I scarcely remember not having children at home and it is going to take a while to get used to it. I do however enjoy this new found freedom. When I come home in the evening I have no commitments. I look forward to doing a lot more things with Lisa.
Now that I've spent all this time complaining and moping about my children all leaving home and becoming "visitors" I have to share just how much fun it is when they do come home for a "visit". It is my firm belief that this is what life is all about. Perhaps my greatest joy in life is knowing that my children like to be with each other. When we're all together we have so much fun together and I'm rarely in bed before 2:00AM. The house is full of noise, commotion, fighting (especially during specific games) and activity. I realize that as more grandchildren are born and families move further away it will be more difficult to all get together but I live for those times.


Peter and Mandy said...

Wow I still can't believe Sarah is old enough to leave home. What a great post.

Alycia (Crowley Party) said...

Dad this was so great! I love love loved it! &it made me realize just how many pictures I DON'T have! haha I am so happy you and mom had so many kids because I love being apart of such a big family. We really are blessed that we all do love eachother and enjoy eachother's company. I know this transition is a new and strange one, but just imagine all the new adventures and great things that are coming as our family just gets bigger and bigger. When Mitch Album spoke at my graduation I thought of you and mom and how I think you guys truly have enjoyed and embraced every stage in your life, I know you will do the same now! I LOVE YOU!
p.s. in the picture you posted of Brandon when he was born, isn't it crazy how much he looks like Hayley! haha love it.

Alycia (Crowley Party) said...

p.s. DANG I was a BALD BALD baby! haha :)

Tiffanie said...

I always enjoy reading your posts Fred! What a fun look at you and your family through the years. You all look so great! I'm glad I have come to know you, Lisa and the kids!

Lisa said...

It's crazy how quickly the time has passed. I still remember saying how I wanted to 'freeze frame' our young family and not let them grow up. There are days I still would like that but then I like to see what they've all accomplished and where they are heading. I'm so proud of them all :) You have been a great Dad & Husband. I love you!

Lynn said...

I can totally relate toy what you said about people making constant comments regarding the number of kids you had or when you should consider your family complete. Sheesh. Some people. I've never thought about commenting like that to others. Whether they have one or more or none.

Anyway.....great post. Something to consider now that we only have 1-3 left at home.

Kira said...

I can't even tell you how much I loved this post!