Let me be perfectly clear about this: I love having my children around the house. I know that time is precious, and I don’t want it to end.
Still, sometimes your relationship hearkens back to the title of a song by Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks: “How Can I Miss You When You Don’t Go Away?”
Last week, my children gave me an opportunity to miss them. Our 9-year-old and 10-year-old daughters were away at 4-H camp. That overlapped for nearly two days with their 16-year-old sister’s excursion to Toledo as a diabetes camp counselor.
That left just my wife, our 4-year-old foster daughter and me home alone for nearly 48 hours. That also meant our house got really, really quiet.
I know life at our house can seem a little idyllic if you read this column regularly. I assure you, it is not. The stories here are usually the highlights, not the lowlights. There are a lot of rather loud disagreements, particularly among the children. I often joke only one child can be happy at any one time.
Without the children sniping at one another, an eerie calm came over our house. Before long, I realized I didn’t really like it.
Sure, it was a little nice to come home from work on Monday and have everything just as clean as it was when we left for the day. We watched what we wanted on television without hearing complaints. But it just didn’t feel like home.
I started to miss our little munchkins like crazy. I had the opportunity to pick the younger two girls up from camp on Tuesday morning, and it took all my energy not to show up there three hours early to bring them home.
They wouldn’t admit it, but I think they missed me too. As I walked up a path toward the camp, I stopped to talk to the mother of one of their friends. My daughters both blindsided me with a tackle our old football coach would’ve approved.
I enjoyed hearing them tell their tales from camp as I drove them home. I even extended our time before I going into the office by stopping at a pizza buffet along the way. The more time I spent with them, the more I realized I missed having them around.
Then I realized in the next 10 years, they’ll both be out of our house. I have to cherish these moments.
Eventually, I dropped them off and headed to work. When I came home that night, we tried to play together as a family outside, but one of them starting griping about everything in her life. Her sister followed suit.
I can’t say I enjoyed listening to their complaints, but I would say I’ll take that over the deafening silence any day.