During a recent Shabbot, Computer Cowboy and I were fortunate to have all of our children with us. As they grow older, such a convergence is less and less common in our home. In fact, shortly after that holy day, we experienced the first Shabbot, since the time when we merited becoming parents, when none of our boys and none of our girls was home.
Consider that Missy Older is married and has moved to Beer Sheva with her husband. Consider that Older Dude is in Givati and is stationed in places that can’t be disclosed. Consider, too, that Missy Younger is perched on the brink of her Sherut Leumi year, a time when she will be living in Arad, a development town in the heart of the Negev Desert (it doesn’t hurt our girls that Arad and Beer Sheva are commutable to each other).
Only Younger Dude has a few years left before completing high school. As such, he is and will continue to be the only child of ours who is and will continue to be regularly at home. Our youngest, though, has found it increasingly “beneficial” to visit his married sister and brother in-law or to otherwise spend Shabbot out. No matter who guests at our table, it’s “boring” to be the only sibling home with “the parents;” more and more, he prefers to see his other kin.
Not only have our kids moved on, literally, but they have physically grown, too. Both of our boys tower over Computer Cowboy. Both of our girls blossom with that essence exclusively indigenous to young ladies in their late teens and early twenties. When the kids are here, they are simultaneously our little girls and boys and a group of sweet young adults that I barely recognize.
During the Shabbot in question, our sons and daughters, our son-in-law, and our guests, specifically a bat bayit and her intended, among courses, took turns jumping up from the table to clear or to set up dishes. Our young men joined my husband in singing. Our young people shared wonderful Dvrai Torah.
It seems like it was only a few weeks ago when my husband and I had to physically care for those kids before, during, and after Shabbot. These days, though, they do nothing to draw upon my husband’s and my energy. No one spills food. Few offspring fall asleep at the first meal; summers, we no longer take Shabbot early to accommodate them. In addition, everyone gets themselves bathed and dressed beforehand candle lighting… “all by themselves.”
Further, I make no Shabbot parties for small ones and navigate no neighborhoods to drop them off at friends’ addresses. There are no bunches of children maraudring through our home in loud voices and with gloriously messy hands and faces. No one jumps off of our staircases any longer. No one brandishes pretend swords. No one politely asks, ten minutes after the most recent offering, for yet another snack.
Rather, when not napping, our kids talk of house paint quality and of university exams. They plot together on strategies for improving Older Dude’s army leave and for spreading up Younger Dude’s completion of high school. The marrieds speak of babies. The next two in line speak of weddings. The kids discuss the relative potency of ammunition and of guns, of ways to improve community programming, and of the pros and cons of a megama in software versus one in chemistry.
When not schmoozing or snoozing, those youngsters study Torah, take walks, or just enjoy each others’ presence. Noticeably, none of the ones living out of the house feel compelled, any longer, to ask Computer Cowboy or my permission for anything (but they share their plans with us, anyway, I think out of courtesy).
I ought to be overjoyed; they came into this world, they grew up, and they are making their own places in “the great out there.” Instead I’m miserable.
Sure, nowadays, have enough personal time on Shabbatot to learn. I also have enough personal time to: read, attend a shiur, and take a nap.
I wasn’t ready for this chapter. Despite oodles of warnings about how quickly this time would come, this time came too soon. Our kids grew up too quickly. I wish for more time with them as little ones. I feel old.
I look at my spouse, that fellow, b’ayin tova, I’ve known since we were teens. He looks old, too.
We anticipated marriage. We anticipated parenting. I don’t think my husband and I ever thought, let alone discussed, the day when our kids would be setting out on their own. We surely didn’t think of the day when we would be down to “one regular customer.”