An older couple we know always encourages my husband and I to enjoy each day (even the bad ones) with our boys. They are in the empty nest stage right now, and they said, "It's terrible." It's quiet. It's lonely. Being on the other side of the parenting experience, they are sharing what they can to help us in the thick of it keep perspective. The days--however long they feel sometimes--are short.
The other day, we were are looking at family pictures stored on the computer, and I teared up at a candid one my husband took of the boys and I eating dinner around the table. Most nights, it's wild and crazy, and hardly a day goes by that a glass of milk or water spills. But, if I'm honest, it's also incredibly fun (even when I think it isn't), and I will tremendously miss having my boys at our table when they're grown and gone.
Thinking of the future can help us in the present. What do we not want to regret when we have an empty nest? What might we wish we would have done differently in our parenting journeys? Honestly, I wish sometimes I wouldn't become so irritable and short-tempered when my boys get into stuff they shouldn't. Big messes (or general destruction of property) make me real grouchy, and when I scold the boys with a raised voice, the tone of our home suffers. I know I will look back on those times and wish I would have handled it differently--with a spirit of calm and patient instruction, instead of a raised voice and harsh words. So since I am aware of that now, I am working on changing it. (So far we're having a pretty good week!)
Live each day so you'll cherish your memories of a full house when you're faced with an empty nest.
For more encouragement on this topic, see also: The Golden Years
The Magic Time