Off to Camp
This will be the 3rd summer that all 3 of our kids are at sleep away camp for 8 weeks. They love it. We love it too. The pace of our lives change. The kids get to experience being away, independence, learning to live with other people in close quarters (besides their family), make new friends, be physically active all day. When we all reconnect around the middle of August it is a love fest again. Fred and I got to have our fun and they got to have theirs.
Every year the kids get older. Realization is sinking in that the kids are only living under our roof for a certain amount of time. Makes me start to look at my future.
I’ve had an interesting career. Decided at one point, or perhaps it was just a natural progression, to stop getting paid to work. I still work but no one is paying me to do what I do. I’m a busy girl. Managing our lives is no easy task. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Yet, the silence when the kids take off is deafening. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll enjoy the free time. Do a few projects that have been nagging at me, read lots of books, figure out some possible vacations etc. But, what happens when the silence extends into 12 months a year.
At dinner a few weeks ago, 2 women at our table were empty nesters. Both women who also checked out of the work world while their kids were growing up. Each of them are smart and driven. So when the kids grew up, they started their next career. I was impressed. The balance is different for them now. They both talked about one day the house is full and the next day it is empty. A feeling that they just can’t describe.
I have quite a few years before that happens but every summer seeing the kids empty bedrooms makes me think about "what’s next?"
That’s a great post, GG. My wife just stopped working after more than 15 years in her field and a solid career progression. She did it for what I presume to be the reason you did it: to focus on the child(ren).
She doesn’t regret it for a second, but she does have similar thoughts: what to do when she *can* work, what is happening in her field that she should *try* to keep up with (try that with a toddler, right?)? etc. etc.
My fomer neighbor in Atlanta was an architect (as is her husband) when she decided to drop the work and focus on raising their two sons for a few years. When she tried to get back in the field, she met with pretty fierce resitance concerning her absence from the working world. What have you been doing to stay current? Why didn’t you feel passionate enough about your work to keep going? etc. etc. It was a real bummer, made more bitter by the fact that she’s French and in her country they have laws to protect women in this situation: not in America, though.