When growing up, it was inconceivable that someday I would look at the people I lived with and think of them as not being in my "family"--but it's true, if I define "family" as a nuclear group of mother, father, and children. Yet so it is. I am now a mother and not a child in the family I hold most dear. My parents and siblings are not in my "family", but they are important and special nonetheless.
When raising children, you get inklings of what will happen when they grow up and marry, and suddenly you are on the outside looking in at their "family". You have become "extended" family--someone that they stretch to include. With one child married and two more committing themselves to their brides this year, my "family" is shrinking and my extended family is growing. I feel a wistful happiness for them. So much excitement and living is ahead of them still.
I do not, do not, do not understand the joy people feel in being empty nesters. All I can think is that they endured parenting, always looking to the day when it would at last be over. It probably isn't that black and white. Maybe the teenage years were rough? I loved having teenagers, and I think my teenagers knew that. We filled our house with teenagers, our own and all their friends. I could never bake enough cookies.
When people ask me why I had five children, I have to quick decide if they can take the real answer: because I couldn't have ten. There were days when I longed to run screaming from the house, but most days I loved my life and my brood and wished they would not grow up so fast.
Having a granddaughter has been a great comfort to me. Although she always prefers mommy and daddy to me, and I love her for that, it pulls at my heart when she reaches for me.
Change is hard, but stagnation is death. I will learn to appreciate the quietness, and being able to have a rational conversation that isn't interrupted a dozen times. I will be able to keep up with my housekeeping and perhaps have time for some postponed projects. I'm just hoping that life doesn't get too quiet, orderly, and predictable. I don't want to be bored till death!