Here’s a fun fact. D and I had 12 out of 13 kids living at home 2.5 years ago. I was changing the chore wheel this morning which I do every Monday. I fill in and do any chores of kids who aren’t here and I realized I’m doing far more than the kids are doing. We’ve had a couple kids graduate high school, a couple move out and that seeming trickle of kids leaving is quickly resembling white water rapids. I looked at the names of our kids – 10 on the wheel – and realized by February-ish of next year – just six months away – we’ll be down to 4 kids and one part time.
Four kids isn’t a small family by today’s standards, but when you have 13, four seems like nothing. I found myself wanting to make a new chore wheel and how would I even DO it with only four kids…… How will I cook for such a small group? Why should we purchase that Suburban we’re looking at when we won’t need it soon? Can we move into the tiny house on wheels sooner? The time I knew would come “someday” when the 12 kids born in 11 years (or the 11 kids born in 7 years, however you want to look at it – we had A LOT in a short time) would grow up and leave, is quickly upon us.
One comment I’ve heard a lot over the years is how I’ll have empty nest syndrome in a massive way when the kids are gone. That’s probably not accurate. When Bri, who is the oldest at 24 now, graduated and moved out, I was excited for her. I helped her pack, discussed her future. I didn’t agree with where she was going or the major she had chosen, but it was her choice so I supported her. She told me her friends parents were crying and here I was getting her boxes, but that’s who I am. I’m excited that my days of parenting are changing into what will hopefully become a unique friendship between parent and child. Although I will always be Mommy, I’m needed in a different capacity and I relish that. It’s not even the child’s independence that’s exciting, it’s my own as well. Several more have moved out or are in the process and I feel the same way every time. Excited for them.
I’ve enjoyed every stage of parenting from the excitement of being pregnant, to them moving out on their own. Parenting has been the most satisfying thing I’ve done and the most difficult. Until you’re a parent, you don’t realize how your heart can possibly be torn in a million directions and pieces. You can’t fathom the intense love, the heartache, the struggle, or the joy. And when they grow up and move on and your “job” to parent them has faded into something different but equally as wonderful, it’s a new phase that I am relishing with equal vigor and enthusiasm. I’ve loved what I’ve done, and I love how it’s changing.
We are in the midst of what will eventually feel like a mass exodus. We still have 5 years until we’re down to one kiddo at home and, yes, we still do need that Suburban. Some kids may return home for a variety of reasons and we’re two years away from moving into the tiny house. Having a seven year gap between the last two kids means we’ll be at this for some time which is lucky for us. Being a parent has been pretty freaking amazing in all it’s struggles. I’m one to be honest, though, and I admit without reservation or guilt that I’m enjoying some of the freedoms that come with being older, having older kids and having more “me” time, more time with D, more ability to spend money in ways that will be new and different for us. In a few years the dreaded chore wheel will be a thing of the past, a memory of a life we no longer live. But for now, I need to know who’s helping with the dishes.