Bunny and Bear Pancakes
by, Kathe Campbell©copyright, all rights reserved

It's said that if you wisely spread your bundles of joy out with a few years in-between, they won't abandon you in a blue funk all at once. I'm not sure how Ken and I managed it, but the good Lord must have lent a hand as we empty nested in tolerable stages.

Our son was born six years ahead of our daughters. The two fellows had close years with all their guy stuff, while the girls and I did perpetual tea parties, dance, and Girl Scouts. After a little arm-twisting and greasing of the palm, our son became a built-in baby sitter of sorts. No more packing a half-asleep sitter into the car and driving her across town at 2 a.m.

The day came when our son, his mini fridge, and his truck went off to college, followed by a stint in the service. But for two smart and spirited teenyboppers keeping us on our toes, we'd have been as homesick for him, as he was for us. Only two grades apart, the girls savored their own special friends. Sports and cheerleading became their lives as they too sailed right past us, but always saving Sunday for family fun.

Then suddenly, no more relaxing on Saturdays with pancakes in the shape of bunnies and bears, or giggly campouts in the backyard playhouse. No more carpools with a half dozen dusty ball players, their bags, and overflowing Slurpies. No more freaky music that fairly rocked the house off it's moorings, endless practicing the right moves in the family room, and hours of clandestine phone calls.

When the oldest daughter hit the college dorms, I looked forward to less laundry, although that question became debatable. We may have been part-time empty nesters but for her big laundry bag appearing in our hallway more often than not. And along with the laundry, the grocery bill hit the ceiling after numerous weekends of roommates and college chums rolling out in sleeping bags upstairs and down.

The last one graduated college, got married and cast off to new horizons as we waved and threw weepy kisses. Ken and I looked at each other like strangers, barely knowing how to act in the sobering silence of our big deserted house. They had grown up, giving pleasure to replace any pain of their teen years. That made it all so worthwhile. No laying in bed at all hours wondering if they were just late, or bloody and broken on a snowy highway somewhere. And who's going to think we're not cool if we flop into bed by ten for a good night's sleep for a change?

It was soon apparent that nobody was handy to help with yard chores and the job I abhorred most, the cleaning of a thousand and one windows. Ken was great about the yard, but claimed the windows were strictly woman's work. Rattling about, living with empty rooms crying out for growth and fun, even tempestuous moments and raging hormones, we kicked our traces.

I took the bull by the horns, called our realtor, and viewed a glorious piece of wooded and streamed acres teeming with wildlife. We had talked often about a log home in the mountains only 20 minutes from town. So we did it, we were now land owners in our own paradise. The old house in town sold with grand memories and no regrets.

I drew plans, the logs were ordered, and suddenly along came our brood with their campers on more weekends than we could count. They helped us with the logs, windows, doors, and roof, until three months later our son and his dad drove in the last spikes atop the loft. What was supposed to be a log cabin turned into a lodge for any and all who cared to stay and saddle a bronc. We had forged a homestead in God's wilderness that has kept our children returning and loving every minute of their parent's grit.

So the question arises . . . were we really empty nesters? Yes, but we unwittingly and happily waylayed its onset. We've sat and rocked in front of the fire on two-dog nights, swapping our times and old photos back and forth. What a grand celebration of a new lifestyle as I flipped a bunny pancake over for our first grandbaby.

We sometimes yearn for the sleepless nights worrying when the children were out, only now it's our backs and knees that are out. In fact, sometimes the empty nest feels emptier than we like. We miss those magnificent beings we so lovingly shaped and molded into success stories. And, we must have been good roll models, for not long ago I heard our youngest daughter remark, . . . "I have every intention of raising my kids just as I was raised."

That just may say it all!

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