Is there light at the end of the parenting tunnel?

As minutes, hours and days go by we barely notice life changing, until one day we see a child of ours and we are winded. It can seem as if over night the years passed us by and in that moment we see our little ones as others do, no longer as little as we imagined them to be only hours before.

I am at the stage in life I once dreamed of. My children no longer make constant demands on me, and my role has become more of an adviser rather than director or even dictator. I rarely hear myself shout and our times together are filled with proper conversations and lots of laughter, usually at each others expense.

This is the summer I thought would never happen when I was exhausted with small children and lost in a life all about them. For years time seemed to stand still. My children went to school and those early years of education seemed to last an eternity. Eventually they moved on to secondary school and as I blinked, three of them have finished, and college has called them. Come September I’ll be the mother of one.

This past week has been like a dress rehearsal for my future life. My eldest and youngest are abroad, so at one stage last Friday night my husband and I found ourselves alone in the house. Did you hear me correctly there? I said we were ALONE, not a child in sight. It was the strangest feeling, as neither of us can remember the last time we were alone together in our own home. I know it only lasted a few hours but it has made me think.

Time is marching on. I will cling on to mothering for as long as I can, until the inevitable happens and I reach the day my children move on permanently. It’s sad to think of it, but after this weekend I’ve realised there is a flip side to this. A side I could not see because I had no memory of it. A side of life I’ve forgotten ever existed, one in which it was just myself and himself, not parents, not partners, just two individuals who have shared a friendship over thirty years. We may only have had a few hours alone, but it was enough to remind me of a time, many moons ago, when each other’s company was more than enough.

Over the past number of years I have witnessed a whole host of endings. Last days breastfeeding, the final sleep in a cot, no more photo credit: Vortex Tunnel via photopin (license)buggies. We have attended final school plays, graduations from playschool and primary school. In more recent years we’ve seen our older children sit the Leaving Cert and make the decision to leave home for college. Each ending has left me feeling like I am travelling on a train moving far too quickly for my liking. Each occasion moving me closer to a life I’d often imagined and sometimes dreaded, a life without my children in it. A life in which I’d no longer be their world where they found new adventures and in time hopefully new love and independence.

However this week has woken me up to a fresh way of thinking. For now I see there is a light shining brightly at the end of what used to be a long dark parenting tunnel. It’s closer than I ever could have imagined and on the other side is a new life. A life all about me and him and us. and if truth be known it doesn’t look half bad.

Bring it on.

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26 thoughts on “Is there light at the end of the parenting tunnel?

  1. I identify so much with what you wrote. In a couple of weeks, I will only have one left at home, and that one is legally an adult. My husband and I are discussing taking a vacation somewhere, just the two of us, something we haven’t done in twenty-one years. I don’t know about you, but I have a sense of accomplishment. Well done, both of us.

    1. Yes I do feel like that and sometimes a ‘phew we made it’
      I hope you have a wonderful vacation. My other half and I recently returned from a holiday alone for the first time in years. It was very different to one with our children but we hugely enjoyed it. Roll on whatever lies ahead.

    1. I love that song Deb. I chose a song for each of my children when they were born and that is the one that stuck for my third young lady. It’s so lovely. Thanks for posting it. I opened it this morning before I got up and it was a wonderful start to the day.

  2. Brilliant positive attitude: the term empty nester is quite unpleasant, I think. Children leaving home should be a time of new opportunities and exploration, a chance to catch up with all those things that you put on hold for so many years, while watching your adult children’s progress with pride and being there for them when they need you. I hope that there will be lots of happy times ahead for you xx

    1. Thank you. I’d always imagined myself to be a real believer and crier for an empty nest, but the past few weeks have really begun to change my view. The house has often been deadly quiet, but then, like today, they return and it’s as loud and busy as ever.
      I do feel I’m on the summit of one part of life and about to move onto another and it’s quite exciting. Yes bring it on.

  3. you’ll love this new stage, tric

    when you’re used to having kids (and their friends) around, the peace and quiet can seem a bit odd at first but you’ll soon appreciate and enjoy the time and opportunities that open up when the kids leave the nest

    and, of course, the buggers keep coming back so you don’t lose them completely – and, in time, your house will be filled with children’s voices again when grandkids come along 😆

    till then, you and yer man enjoy being ‘a couple’ again rather than ‘parents’

  4. Thanks Duncan. You hit the nail on the head when you said about it all seeming a bit odd at first. That’s exactly what it feels. I look around wondering where they all are, or to the clock checking if it’s time for them to be home and then realise things are different.
    But as you know I’m well able to enjoy all that life brings so I hope to fully appreciate time for me and us once more.

  5. What a lovely post! You will always be a mother of four and that train will pick up speed as the years go along. You will enjoy rediscovering yourself and will soon be looking for new challenges and adventures. The greatest thing of all will be enjoying the wanderers returning to base every now and again. And as the saying goes, Thank God for money, it makes the children stay in touch! Lovely blog!

  6. Well said! I often dread thinking about them growing and moving out but we still have a long way to go. It’s important though to focus on the good and wonderful things that will come from this. I’m sure you and your husband deserve this time together and will make the most of it.

  7. Wow!!…you worded this perfectly. I often find myself dreading when my kids leave for good, and also looking forward to what that new season of life will bring. I still have quite a few years to go though!

    1. Thank you. Enjoy your little ones, but dare to dream that some day a new life will come and it will hopefully not be any way as lonely as you think it will be.

  8. I too am looking forward to that phase of life…however, I just set myself back 10 yrs by adopting a 3 yr old…what was I thinking?! Seriously though, I just left my son as he entered the college world. Not our first but for some reason he was harder to leave behind than the first one. There’s a hole in my heart right now, but I know it will be filled with new beginnings again. Thank you for sharing!

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