Because my own peers are mostly in the same boat as me, I come in contact with a lot of empty nesters. Lately I’ve been more aware of couples who have reclaimed their lives with selfish abandon as soon as their kids are grown. Granted, there are many perks to having an empty nest but to always prefer it over the opportunity to spend time with my kids is such a foreign and unfathomable concept to me. We will rearrange our plans and make ourselves available when they want our company. Why wouldn’t we? They’re independent, happy, well adjusted young adults who are fun and interesting to be around and let’s face it, at their age their lives are much busier than ours. There isn’t anyone that I’d rather spend time with than my own kids! I really, really like them.
The flipside to that coin is that we are still kids, too. At least to our parents we are, if we’re lucky enough to still have them with us. Being the parent of grown kids has made us more conscientious toward making an effort to spend time with our aging parents. Now we understand how treasured it is to have your kids around – no matter how young or old they are.
What makes a parent separate themselves from their grown kids? They may be grown, but they are still setting goals and working toward them, establishing life relationships, and making career decisions. Just because some magical number says they’re adults now, doesn’t mean they should have to do all of it without us. When they come around, it’s because they love us and they really do want us to be part of their lives, and they show us honor by showing up. We’ve modeled what we think is a decent example and then sent them to find their course but our part isn’t over and neither is the joy of doing it.
Parenthood continues – be present for it. Being a child of an aging parent continues – be present there, too. Enjoy being honored and always be honoring.