We’re right smack in the middle of a time of life that, if I’m to be honest, I couldn’t have even imagined about 20 years ago. Our children are grown now, all young adults. Sounds silly, I know. Of course, God willing, our children will grow to be adults – first young, then not-so-young. It is the way life’s supposed to work.
But like so many other parents, hubby and I built our lives around raising children. In truth, they were why we did pretty much everything we did, for about 25 years. And now, they’re out on their own. No, I simply couldn’t imagine that not so very long ago.
And since I’m being honest, I suppose I should admit that I feared this time of life. A life without kids at home? A life that isn’t energy-infused and boisterous, and above all, busy, busy, busy? How would we do it? Looking back on the whirlwind that was our childrens’ time at home, I realize that our lives were on some sort of crazy auto-pilot, with the speed set at “wide open.” During those years, I never would have believed that we could live any other way.
And holidays, oh my. How on earth could we possibly celebrate holidays without our babies at home? Holiday celebrations are sort of an Olympic sport in my family. I grew up that way, and I have done my best to continue the tradition in our own family. Meals are exquisite, and decorating is fun and festive. But above all, holidays are to be celebrated with family. With our children. I never imagined having to share them with anyone, or taking a back seat to their jobs and social lives. How could anyone or anything ever become more important to our children than their parents? Preposterous.
For those of you who still have children living at home, take heart. Not only can you do all these things and more, let me give you a few things to which you can look forward. First, few things in life compare to the joy of seeing your children become the people they are meant to be. It’s when they become young adults that you finally have that critical reassurance that they’ll be OK in life. If you’re a parent, you know how much that means.
Second, it’s in this sweet spot that my husband and I are living lives that are centered around us, as a couple. If we go to a ballgame, it’s because we bought tickets and planned to go. When we travel, it’s just the two of us, not all of our children and some of their friends thrown in for good measure. At home, it’s just us and our dogs – quiet, relaxed, low-key. I like that. A lot.
And third (now get ready for this), there are grandchildren. When we begin missing that element of energy, wonder and curiosity that only a child brings to a home, we spend time with our granddaughter. She’s 3 years old, maybe the most delightful age a child can be. When we have her, especially this time of year, we pack the days and nights with grandparent-y things to do. We bake and decorate. We watch movies that she loves, chomping on popcorn and enjoying her expressions as much as the movie itself. We spend time outdoors, and we hug and kiss and laugh a lot. It’s sheer, exhausting, heaven.
So you see? We’re truly living in the sweet spot of our lives. Can it get better? Sure, if more grandchildren come our way! For right now though, we’re settling in nicely to exactly where we are. We live life, for the most part, on our terms. It’s dialed down a few notches from the pace we used to keep, and that’s OK. Let’s face it, hubby and I are “dialed down,” physically anyway. We have aches and pains, and we go to bed a little earlier than we used to. But when we get to spend time with our children, we’re not racing around, trying to beat the clock. We talk with them, and they, us. We spend time doing things we enjoy doing together. When we get to spend time with our granddaughter, it’s like getting a shot of sweet, sparkling, giggly, adrenaline. But when we are alone, just the two of us, we enjoy one another. We still learn things about each other, after 20 years. We date. We talk about our children and grandchildren, no doubt. But most times, we’re just us. And that, my friends, is the sweet spot.
Here’s to hoping that this entire season is filled with warmth and love, family and friends for each of you. And whatever stage of life you’re in, and no matter whether you have no children, you’re up to your eyeballs in raising them, or like us, you see them as often as you can, enjoy this time. Like all the others, it passes as stealthily and as quickly as a fleeting memory.
Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. Her fourth book, BLOOD IN THE SOIL, was named Finalist for 2017 Georgia Author of the Year in the Detective/Mystery genre. Her previous three books are written with loving humor about the South. Carole often appears on network television talk and news shows, as well as on national radio shows. Her books can be found in bookstores, on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and at www.caroletownsend.com. When she's not writing, Carole travels throughout the southeast, talking to groups about women, writing, family, and life in her beloved South. www.caroletownsend.com. Follow Carole on Facebook (Carole Townsend-Author), Twitter @caroletownsend, or Instagram @carole.w.riter.