Sigh. It's a little quiet around my house tonight. No soft hum of conversation from the guest room, no click-click of the keys on the computer, no sudden giggles or hearty guffaws at something comical on TV or the web, no late night kitchen raids for a bowl of cereal or some cookies and milk. My son left home today. Well, to be fair, he really left home eight years ago when he moved to Florida to go to college. Fresh out of high school, he packed up virtually everything he owned, rented his own apartment, and proceeded to set up housekeeping for himself. He did a fine job of it too, but, like his ancient ancestor Adam, found himself a little lonely. So within a couple of years he found the perfect partner. She too was living all alone - in Australia, and far away from her family in Thailand. So now they have a home and life of their own in Florida. And lucky for us, they've been visiting with us for the past 10 days.
It's interesting when grown children come home. So many old habits remain - the way he stopped by our room on his way to bed to call out "Good Night," just like he did every night when he was a child. The way he stays up late, typing away at his keyboard and listening to music on his headphones, as he so often did as a teenager. But now he's often working when he's typing away at the computer, and he takes conference calls from places like Kansas and China. And when he goes to bed at night, he sleeps with his wife, and not with an array of stuffed toys.
I think if you do your job as a parent (and you have a little bit of good luck on your side) your children will establish independent lives, relationships, and homes. They will pursue their passions, and follow their dreams. But in fulfilling your duty as a parent, and supporting your children in pursuit of their dreams, it actually means causing yourself great pain. The thing we most want to do, from the minute our babies are born, is to keep them close to us. And the thing we have to start doing, from the minute they're born, is learning how to let them go.
So, I waved goodbye at the airport again this afternoon-I've gotten really good at doing that. And once again I came home to a very empty room, and a very quiet house.