I’ve had kids in my house for over 21 years, some my own, some stepchildren. All of them, worrying, fun, infuriating, wonderful in turns. Now, for the first time in two decades, I’m kidless. Our youngest have moved out and will be starting college in the fall.
I have arrived at this moment with mixed feelings. When my kids were very young, I was a very active parent. I worked the night shift and I was the one who put the kids to bed at night. I also usually picked them up from school in the afternoon. Since their mother worked in the evenings, I usually made dinner and handled baths. I spent most of my waking time parenting and I loved it.
After I divorced from their mother, I had custody of them and so I raised them alone for most of the time, except for a second, short, ill-conceived marriage. By the time I married my current wife, I had been parenting alone for over 6 years.
My son is 21 and moved back to Massachusetts to live with his grandmother almost 2 years ago. My daughter moved in with her mother last summer after we moved to the north side of town and she wanted to finish her Senior year at the high school she’s been attending since 9th grade. My stepson was the last to move out at the end of this school year. He moved in with his dad to be closer to the college he will be attending in the fall.
Now, this isn’t the end to my parenting since being a parent never ends, but it is an end to day-to-day parenting. It is liberating and sad in equal measures. The one mitigating factor is that my stepdaughter has a 3 year old daughter who we babysit a few times a week. So I guess instead of parenting I am now grand parenting.
It is much the same except we can leave when the parents get home. It was nice to know that my diapers changing skills had not deteriorated in the 15 or so years since my kids were in diapers. There is also the joy of watching her learn to walk and talk and now reading (she started reading at 2 years of age!).
Whenever people ask me what the best job I’ve ever had is, I always say that it is being a dad. Nothing I ever do can be more rewarding or important than raising children, watching them learn and grow into adults. It is what we leave to the future; out contribution to ongoing evolution of the human race.