As empty-nest parents of 8 adult children it’s sometimes hard to remember the crazy chaos when they were all home. Our lives were willingly and literally consumed with our kids. Meal planning, housework, job charts, driver’s ed, laundry, homeschool and homework, dishes under the bathroom sink, pet rats, cats, dogs and chickens, fostering and adopting (children and pets), sports, Scouts, sailing, missing kitchen knives found on the trampoline, church activities, camping, biking, proms, missions and more. One soccer season we had all 8 kids playing and had 69 games to attend – 16 of which we were coaching.
So much to do. So much laughter, crying, negotiating, arguing, birth, celebrations, despair and joy. Sometimes we felt like we got it right, but most of the time we were winging it.
It’s a cliché, but where did those 30 years go? I don’t feel 30 years older than when our first was born -- but he insists he’s ours. I’ll admit that at times I’d like to see how it would feel to go someplace where no one knows us and temporarily assume a new identity – one that isn’t shaped by assumptions and stereotypes that accompany introductions such as, “I’m Sean, from Oregon, have 8 kids….” – just to see what else defines Sean. At the same time, I’m also proud of what those introductions represent: a Masters in laundry.
But 25 years ago it was Marty, Sean, Connor (4), Jake (2) and Truman (0). After five years in Provo, Utah, one English BA and an almost Engineering BS we were itching for….something different. We acted like the 20 somethings we were and sold it all. Bye bye house, car, business and stable future.
Plan A: go spend a week or two in Oregon at my parents’ home to say goodbye – the oh-so-casual goodbye of those who have yet to feel the tug at the heartstrings that comes when watching their firstborn leap into the unknown (we’d learn that lesson a few years later). While there we’d build a roof rack for the Suburban before driving to Florida to find a sailboat. We’d learn to sail, then cruise our way to the US Virgin Islands and have ourselves an adventure.