My husband and I are entering a new phase in our lives. Though we can’t call ourselves empty nesters because our children do continue to live in our home, we have pretty independent children who are more than capable of looking after themselves and tending to the house and our pets so we can travel as a couple. Our children are more like roommates these days.
While I’ve been apprehensive about these years and facing the inevitable life without children living in our home, my husband welcomes them. He’s told me on more than one occasion that he looks forward to our time alone together.
We met in high school and married young. Our first child was born months before my 22nd birthday. I was just shy of my 25th birthday when the birth of my daughter completed our family. Three children in three years. While we longed to travel, we rarely took time for the two of us. In the early years, we were strapped financially and the need for food won out over the want to travel. We never really had time for just the two of us.
So much of our marriage was focused around our kids and their needs that I wondered if we’d even have anything to talk about once our kids were grown. There were many times I wondered if we’d stay married long enough to celebrate the empty nest years. I wondered if we’d grow apart as the years past and their were times that I worried that maybe we’d become one of those couples that were only together for the kids. I’m not sure that my husband ever had those concerns. At least if he did, he never voiced them.
For the past few years, my husband and I have been sneaking off on trips that include just the two of us. Most of those getaways have included destinations near home or quick trips to neighboring states. But this past month we stretched ourselves and planned a 10-day cross-country road trip to the Oregon Coast. With our oldest son serving on a mission trip in Haiti, we left our youngest two at home to keep an eye on the house and pets and we drove away into the sunrise to celebrate our 23rd anniversary.
There are a few things that I noticed.
- Traveling without kids is quite a bit quieter. No bickering. No teasing (almost). No whining.
- Traveling without kids is easy. We could go where we wanted and stop where we wanted and no one was there to complain.
- Traveling without kids is cheaper- but not by much. We still use the same amount of gas and still pay for lodging. But our food costs were reduced and so were attraction tickets.
- My husband and I find plenty to talk about when the kids aren’t there. We laughed. We had fun. We didn’t get aggravated with each other once. We genuinely enjoyed each other’s company.
And while those things are all benefits, I missed the kids. A lot. I missed them so much that we considered flying my daughter to Portland to meet us and then dropping her off at another airport as we continued on our journey.
I missed the kids when we saw bison in Yellowstone.
I missed them when I was walking along the coast of Oregon at sunrise collecting sand dollars.
I missed them when we walked among the Redwoods in California.
I know this experience is good for my husband and I. I know the days have been creeping up where we’ll no longer do everything as a family. And I know my kids are going to – and have had- experiences without us and vice versa. This is a very good thing. A very natural thing. But this nearly empty nest travel thing is going to take a bit to get used to.
This post is linked to Friday Postcards with Walking On Travels.