Fast forward 24 years to the present. Their boys are grown and at college. They will come back on weekends and breaks, but for all intents and purposes, this couple is now an empty nest couple.
They have spent the last 24 years going to field trips and school sings, baseball practices and football games. They went to conferences, until they realized that they didn't need to any longer because their boys were doing their homework. They coached soccer and baseball teams. They helped with homework and projects. They picked out school clothes when the boys were younger, and handed over cash when they were older. They watched when their youngest was in the hospital after a biking accident, and their youngest in the hospital he took a baseball to the face. They've been their through surgeries and recoveries. They have been their through successes and defeat. They witnessed their firstborn get his first tattoo (after a broken leg), his second (after recovery) and third (for his brother and their heritage). They saw their youngest accept an all conference nod, and scholarships from an alum of his chosen college who also happens to be his brother.
It's been 20 days since the youngest left for campus, nine days since the oldest left as well. We have seen both of them multiple times in these last 20 days...the perks of having a campus so close to home.
Life as they know it has changed. Dinners have been quicker to make (thinking two burgers and a salad, instead of six burgers, a salad, mac n cheese, pickles, chips and dip) or opting to go out instead; laundry is relatively painless; and the house has been quiet. There are no boys upstairs gaming, or rough-housing. Their dogs tried to sleep on their beds when they left, but end up in the couples room, most likely wondering when their brothers are coming home. The nights laying in bed is often eerily quiet as there are no noises coming from their bedroom as the couple drifts off to sleep.
There have been phone calls and texts, and no doubt there will be more. But there hasn't been good night hugs and kisses, when in reality who is to expect those from a 22 and 18 year old anyway? (This mom...that's who).
Things will continue to evolve as this empty nest syndrome takes hold. Trips to the cottage will be two people, two dogs, instead of the entire family. Rooms will be cleaned and remain spotless until there is that one surprise visit. Then chaos will ensue and the rooms will wait to be cleaned again, the couch cushions will have to be fluffed, the meals will be seven course, the laundry will pile up, the dogs will perk up, and this mom will get her hugs and kisses.