Poor Tom. He’s empty nesting and having a really hard time of it.
Tom has never been an authoritarian, demanding, or controlling father in any way. In fact, I can count on one hand the times that I’ve heard him really yell at any of the kids. Instead, he’s been the really great friend who, through just being who he is, has commanded respect from his kids and who has spent vastly more time being goofy with them over the past 20-some years than being authoritarian with them.
It’s just how he rolls.
And, since the kids have been older, Tom’s received a nice dose of good-natured teasing from them as well.
The kids are grown now and living lives of their own and, although at least one of them is home most weekends, it’s pretty dang quiet around here during the week. While I make a point of remembering back to the chaotic days when we had four kids under the age of five and evenings were filled with four baths, four bedtime stories, and at least one noisy sibling argument, the stillness and quiet of our current evenings seem to genuinely depress Tom.
It’s just too peaceful and quiet around here without them and Tom sometimes seems like a puppy in search of the rest of the litter.
I try not to take it personally but the truth is, I’m NOT as much fun as the kids. I spend most evenings writing and reading (mostly online) and cooking and tidying and doing laundry.
I really am boring, it seems.
Last night I asked Tom if he wanted to play a game. Maybe Upwords or Rumikub? (My parents played games all the time – just the two of them.) But he didn’t want to play a game and we ended up changing the sheets on the bed instead.
Then he fell fast asleep.
I’m not sure how to fix this for poor Tom. The kids most likely aren’t going to be moving back home again for any appreciable amount of time – and that’s the way it should be. When you raise strong, smart, independent kids they tend to go off and build strong, smart, independent lives of their own.
Before they left home (and remember, three of them left within… one… month!) everyone, including me, assumed that I’d be the one who’d struggle most with an empty nest. But I think Tom’s struggle is actually a testament to his wonderful parenting, and to his great kids who have loved him and filled his life with great joy -- and who will continue to do so, even if they don’t live under the same roof anymore.