When the Kids Move Out

My wife and I wondered what our life would be like when our full-time parenting jobs were over.

My wife and I were sitting at dinner the other night when I noticed an annoying sound coming from the next room. Click . . . click . . . click. Like water dripping, or maybe something sparking. So I went to investigate.

It was the clock ticking.

This is a sound we haven’t heard in our house for almost 24 years. Oh, it’s been there all along, ticking away, lurking behind louder sounds: babies crying, Barney singing, little boys fighting, basketballs bouncing, little girls giggling, Power Rangers morphing, school buses honking, music shaking the walls, teens playing video games, hair dryers blowing, cell phones beeping and buzzing. Far more suddenly than we were ready for, all of that noise stopped. We always approached parenting teens with the idea that we were trying to work ourselves out of a job. To our surprise, that’s exactly what happened.

I’ll quickly acknowledge we haven’t been world-champion parents, though I suppose the jury’s still out. We did the best we knew how. The past several years have presented their share of heartaches as well as joys, as we’ve tried to help guide our teens into young adulthood. Despite what book publishers may tell you, there’s no fail-safe instruction manual. Even for those parents who do everything right, sometimes kids still make bad choices. (Just ask God.)

All of that investment in our marriage over 24 years of parenting is paying big dividends now.

Our kids may not always have seen the world’s greatest parents, but they saw a healthy, happy, God-honoring marriage. They saw Mom and Dad go out on date nights so often that we didn’t even need to call them that. They saw a house filled with laughter, dinners filled with conversation, mornings punctuated by the two of us praying together.

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