Written by Doctor G

Leaving my nest

I have a secret.  I am looking forward to being an empty-nester.

Don’t get me wrong, I love raising our boys.  And I know that I’m going to miss having them home and their friends and the noise and the chaos.  So I work to actively appreciate this time with them.  I don’t (although I’m sure most friends and neighbors think I must) look forward to the quiet and the cleanliness.  I just look forward to the travel!

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a huge fan of travel.  Road trips, flights, trains, beaches, forests, cities, farmland.  I want to see it all and meet the people who live there.  So far I’ve been in five countries in my life and I would love to multiply that number by ten at least, someday.

We travel with our kids and I am thrilled that they handle it well.  We hit the kid lottery as far as good travelers go.  Their ability to embrace new experiences makes it a pleasure to be new places with them.  But the getting-there, that is not so simple, right?  Packing, flights, waiting, eating, it’s totally doable but not relaxing.

So, my fantasies about those glory days when the kids are grown and flown from our nest center around leaving that nest myself, with my travel-loving husband and hitting the road.

I read articles by people in that time period and two concerns jump out at me.  The first is physical health.  As a dear friend in her mid-60’s told me on my 40th birthday: “Each decade is better, if your body can keep up.”  So I exercise and hope for the best.  The second is marital health.

Can you imagine finally being alone with your spouse after 20+ years of raising kids and not feeling comfortable with her or him?  Not remembering how to be alone?  What to talk about besides the kids or the day to day of the household?

When we enjoy our parent to parent relationship, we build a great foundation for our family. Better yet, we model happiness for our kids, leading them to look for a partner that treats them well and makes them happy.

The take home point for me from all this is: exercise your relationship (not exorcise – that is for poltergeists and marriage counselors).  Date your partner.  Maintain or develop some interests that don’t rely on your kids.  Talk about other things, like sports or politics or arts or TV shows.  Do things for each other – romantic and mundane.

When I get too wrapped up in kids or work or both, my husband always reminds me: I don’t want to rock on the porch someday with my patients or my children.  I want to rock on the porch – and hike through Thailand – with him.

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