I remember quite well a day 17 years ago. That day our twin sons, Chad and Brad, loaded their car and left home to attend college. I got up early that morning and cooked breakfast while wiping away tears. I sat our “table for five” and realized how all of our lives were about to change.
I noticed how quietness engulfed our kitchen that morning. The five of us sat down to breakfast. Nobody had anything to say, however. Not one of us knew what to say. Sure, the boys would be coming home on the weekends, but even so, I knew our family life would never be exactly the same again.
The boys rambled around each room of the house to make sure they hadn't forgotten anything they needed. I packed a cooler with drinks and their favorite cold snacks. I found a box and filled it with essential food items. When my mind tricked me into thinking they might go to bed hungry that night, I emptied my wallet and placed the little bit of cash I had in their hands.
We all walked outside. Chad and Brad gave me big hugs and quickly got into their car. I waved as they drove away. When I couldn't see their car any longer, I began to sob. I sat down on the driveway, placed my face in my hands and cried harder than I had cried in a long time. My husband Roy tried to console me, but I could see grief in his eyes, as well.
Five years later, we went through many of the same emotions when our daughter, Becky moved away from home. We had become somewhat accustomed to our “table for three.” We were sad that it would soon become a “table for two.”
There are many parents dreading this time of year. Bittersweet feelings will be present. While these parents feel pride and joy for their children, they will also feel a sense of grief. Painful moments will fill their minds. While I cannot adequately explain the feelings, I can still remember how I felt when we began that new chapter in our lives.
The new chapter meant the telephone didn't ring as much. The house was quieter. I longed to see messy bedrooms once again. I would have loved to referee another sibling squabble. The worse feeling I had was the thought I was no longer needed. Of course, I was proud that my children were self-sufficient. I knew down deep they wouldn't starve. But I would have loved to have gotten up early and prepared lunches just one more time. I needed to be needed.
Time rocked on, however. Roy and I are now accustomed to the quaintness of our table for two and we enjoy our lives together. Every night is date night for us. Our dinner table is usually at someone's restaurant. As an added bonus “dinner for two” is much more affordable than dinner out for an entire family.
I have to admit I still miss our children and the old times we had together. But I also have to say I better enjoy the time I spend with the man of my dreams than ever before. Change is not always easy. If you are one of those parents who have just said goodbye to a child headed off to college, let me prepare you for some hard and lonely days, weeks and even months. But let me also say that a new chapter in your life is just ahead. Hold on tight until then. Renew your vows to the one you love. And when you go to your favorite restaurant say with a strong voice and a great deal of courage, “Table for two, please.”
Roy and I have always enjoyed each other's company, but after the children moved away, we found a great amount of strength in each other. Some things have changed over the years. Our love for one another has grown stronger with each passing day. Together, Roy and I are now doing things we never dreamed possible. Our children oftentimes talk about how we are busier and happier than we have ever been before. Could it be because we fell deeper in love as we spent 12)quality time together at our table for two?