It is unpopular to openly daydream about what sort of life you’ll live when your children move out, but that doesn’t stop me from indulging from time to time. Here, then, are a selection of things I anticipate enjoying:
More room. There are two bedrooms being occupied by children in my home – both of which can, and will, be someday repurposed. Perhaps a true guest room (instead of the combination guest room, sewing room, cat-litter-box room we currently have). Perhaps a home office. My beloved husband daydreams of a home gym of sorts.
Storing things in logical places. One of the children steals things from around the house, destroys those things (or simply takes them outside of the house, never to be seen again). He wipes snot on things. He rifles through things. Someday, however, I will be able to store things in the upstairs bathroom (where the shower is) instead of hauling them up from my bedroom. Someday I will be able to put pretty things on display without worrying they’ll be ruined. Someday I will not be (reasonably) paranoid about my important things disappearing.
Buying and using things that are not purely utilitarian. Someday my beloved husband and I will have conversations about purchasing nice things that don’t end in, “Well, the kids will just wreck [new items] anyway. Might as well wait before we replace [existing shoddy thing].” I mean, I’ll still have the same husband, so I can’t get too crazy here.. but things will have a better chance of survival even if they’re pretty.
Eating whatever, whenever. When we had no children, we ate random things at random times. Then we had to make sure to make actual ‘balanced meals’ for the children and serve these meals at designated times. This has begun to ease, somewhat, now that one child is often working late hours or sleeping over at a friend’s home – but there is still a need to purchase specific foods and make sure other foods have been clearly identified as “for children to eat as snacks” and “for children to take to school for lunch” and whatnot.
Conversations that are not whispered or in code. Anyone with children will know what I mean by that and it won’t need any elaboration.
Fewer people to work around. Did you want to shower now? Too bad, there is a person in there. Did you want to make yourself breakfast? Too bad, someone is in the middle of unloading the dishwasher and taking up the entire counter. This will not end, completely, but instead of three people to schedule around, it will be just one. Neat.
Less laundry, less dishes. Totally self-explanatory.
Spur of the moment adventures. This, to some extent, depends on our pet situation – we currently have 900 pets – but we’ll be able to create our schedule fully based on ourselves and each other. No worries about which kid has an appointment, who’s going where, who’s home for the day, who’s working. And no guilty feelings if we go do something fun without the kids.
Gratuitous nudity. ‘Nuff said.
Many of my friends have young children (and a few have infants) and I am exhausted thinking about that. It is kind of amazing how much better life is, already, now that the kids are getting older – one is out of the house altogether, one is incredibly independent about pretty much everything, and one is inching closer with each passing day. We worked hard to teach our kids life skills pretty early – in part because I was so overwhelmed by becoming an ‘instant parent’ to THREE kids all at once and in part because that’s one of the things we consider(ed) important.
I am not wistful for those early hard days – I remain intrigued by what my kids will do. One has been out of contact for a few years, now, since he moved out and made his way back to his biological mother. Another is figuring out his life path – what he wants to do when school is over, how he wants to pay his bills, all that good stuff. The other is figuring out how high school works which, in and of itself, makes for an interesting year.
I do not miss afternoons spent watching endless children’s shows (or listening to someone beg me to watch endless children’s shows). Sticker charts. Fights that ended in someone being sent to their room while the other screamed. Figuring out how to navigate the elementary school system (much, much harder than high school). Dealing with the precarious nature of small children’s friendships. Trying to figure out how to put together a ‘balanced meal’ when I was mostly just wanting to eat a chocolate bar, myself.
It is far, far more interesting to see these human beings becoming.. their own people. Their own lives, their own secrets, their own skills. The goal of parenting, for me, is to see them leave the nest – gracefully, ideally.