On the Flip Side

on the flip side, father and daughter, father and teen daughter, father hugging daughter, kids leaving home, empty nestersWe’re on the flip side. We have fewer years left with kids in our home than we’ve already had years with them.

I recently realized that we have only nine more years until we are empty nesters. It doesn’t seem possible. Looking at my sweet young kids, none driving yet, how can it be that Nick and I will be on our own with everyone graduated or away at college in fewer than 10 years?

Like a surprise party, somehow we’re on the flip side.  It’s the trick of time. Amazingly, as I only recently “figured this out,” we’ve actually been on the flip side for a couple of years already. It went unrecognized as we romp through our daily life.

My feelings all swirl together like the colors in a carnival spin art craft. Joy, sadness, hopefulness, disbelief, worry, unpreparedness. I’m not ready. Not even close to ready now. Nine years is not enough time with my kids living right here, under my wings. Yet, like the mother of a two year old who laments having a teen, I know that as the minutes build into years, I’ll become more ready.

How is it that we only have four years to teach our daughter about boys, relationships, and life? Only four short years to impress upon her the warnings about drinking, the weightiness of foolishness, the exponential exposures of social media, the jumble of joys and dangers of choices …

As parents, once is never enough. Repetition is doubtless the hallmark of parenthood from toddlers to teens and beyond. Nick and I have addressed in a variety of ways each of these topics, but while we dive deeper as Ali gets older, it seems we’ve only dabbled, there is so much more she needs to know. And so much more I don’t want her to know yet. It’s that continual balance walk of parenthood.

I don’t want her to be old enough to need to know. I am really enjoying her maturity and how our relationship has grown because of the things I can now share with her.

I often say that it takes a long time for my brain to catch up to my chronology. In the same way, our girl who was not so long ago a baby, a toddler, cannot possibly be leaving our home in four short years. I again marvel how we’re on the flip side.on the flip side, siblings, hugging sisters, kids years ago, girls in red dresses, smiling kids, happy siblings

The saying goes that God made teens make their parents crazy so that we’re ready for them to leave home. And we certainly have our crazy time here, but mostly, it’s a new phase with it’s pros and cons like all other phases of parenthood.

My Mom has given me the gift of countering the trite expectations of teenage-hood as being loathsome. My parents talk about how they really enjoyed my sister, brother and me as teens and that gives me the confidence that our last years with Ali under our roof don’t have to be combative and miserable as seen on TV.

Okay, so you may be thinking, “Don’t you know, Leah, that they often come back home after college?” And so many kids seem to need to do these days. Sure, that possibility sits in the back of my mind, but we’ve been half-jokingly conditioning the kids since they could talk with the expectation that after college, they will find a job, an apartment and start out on their wonderful new life on their own. (Hopefully not too far away from Mom and Dad.)

Poor Anna has come to tears with this discussion of eventually leaving home. Once while talking with the three kids about life after high school, she started sobbing, “But I love our house. I don’t want to ever live without you and Daddy. I want to live in our house all the time.” With a big hug, we had to dial it back and explain that she’ll never have to go anywhere until she’s ready.

She’ll be ready when her time comes. I wonder if I will be.

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One Response to On the Flip Side

  1. […] Peering around at the group, I smiled, we all looked somehow so much the same with a few more laugh lines and a little more gray, most of us parents now, navigating high school from the flip side. […]

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