The Last Little Chicky

chickies.jpgI was a child bride.  At least by today’s standards, I was, but back in my younger days, living in a small town in western Nebraska, it was common practice to marry soon, very soon, out of high school.   

And that’s what we did–when I was 19 and Doug was 20.  Fifteen months later, our first daughter was born.  Three more followed.  With our youngest, Amy, coming seven years after the sister before her, Doug and I have had a child in the house for a very lo-ong time. 

 In two days, we won’t. 

Why does that scare me? 

Amy goes off to college on Friday and ends 31 years of curfews, chores and school activities.  No more uniforms to wash on weekends.  No more work schedules posted on the ‘fridge.  No more ‘What’s for supper, Mom?’ 

chickies.jpg

It scares me, all right. What will Doug and I talk about?   What will we do when we only have each other?  What will it be like to have the house empty of little chicks? 

Ironically enough, the Today Show (my favorite–you’ll hear me quote from them often in the coming months) recently aired a segment on becoming empty-nesters.  They tell me I’m entering the second half of motherhood and that I’ll have the time of my life.  They claim my marriage will likely enter into a new honeymoon stage.  We’ll rediscover each other.  Grow closer.  Have fun. 

Hmm.   

I’ll also be entering a phase that will be just for me.  More time to write.  Or take spontaneous research trips.  I can pick up and go to writers conferences, have lunch with girlfriends . . .. 

Sure.  Okay.  But the fact remains I’ve lived more of my life with children than without them, and now my littlest chicky doesn’t need me anymore.  She’s sprouted her own wings and is flying away to a new life of herchickies.jpg own.  I’ll lay awake at night knowing her bedroom is empty and her car isn’t sitting in the driveway.  I won’t know where she is at any given moment.   

I’ll get over it, I suppose.  Most likely, I’ll even learn to like it.   Until then, I take comfort in the Today Show telling me there’s a million of us on the brink of post-mommyhood as the new school year begins, and I’m not alone as I enter my new world. 

What about you?  Are you there yet?  Was it hard having your little chick leave the nest–or are you counting down the days?   

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Pam has written 30 romances, most of them historical westerns. Her newest sweet historical romance, HARRIETT, was the launch book for the popular Cupids & Cowboys series, More books are coming! Stay up on the latest at www.pamcrooks.com

18 thoughts on “The Last Little Chicky”

  1. I was a child bride as well–highschool sweethearts in a lil’ podunk town, we married at eighteen. And though I swore I’d never have children–I wanted to travel the world–five years later, we had two kidlets 😉 And life really started. My boys are now 12 and 13 and taller than me–if I could find an anti-grow, I’d use it! Or at least slow them down a bit *g*. But with every new stage, there are new joys to discover–on our way home from Nevada last month the hubby and I were lamenting on how nice it was to travel with teens–no longer having to carry them when they get tired 🙂

    Cheers and (hugs) on the flight of your youngest! Sounds like you’ll both be getting to stretch your wings 🙂

  2. I too was a child bride. And my dh’s name is Doug too!!! We met a week after my sweet 16 and were married 3 years later. Both of us were 19 at our wedding. This Saturday we will be celebrating 17 years. I can’t believe it! I have two kids, both under the age of 10. There are some days that I can’t wait for them to leave the house, but I am sure my tune will change come college time.

  3. Not too much of a child bride; got married after college but I have already experienced the empty nest. I’ll admit the first year was hard. But you start getting used to running around in your underwear whenever you want (have two boys so never ran around in my undies) and yes, you and hubby do start re-discovering each (we just bought side by side recliners since we no longer need the big couch to accommodate everyone watching TV- it’s just us and so we’re adapting the house to be what we need to enjoy it more). I think the biggest shock to the boys was when hubby converted *their* gameroom into his office. They were never here to use it and it was a large room that wasn’t being used. Now it is. (But it took us 2 years to take that step.)

    Like you, Pam, I spent a lot of time and energy with the boys. Even now, if one calls to say he’s going to be in town, I’ll drop whatever I’m doing to go have lunch with him–even if I’ve told others that I can’t leave the house because I’m on deadline, I’ll leave it for the boys.

    Your little chickies will always be your little chickies. But you’ll adjust to them being gone. I won’t say I enjoy it more now that they’re not living here, but I’ve adjusted. If they called this afternoon and said they needed to move back home, I’d be waiting at the door.

    But I don’t think hubby would give up his nice large office.

  4. I wasn’t a child bride either. I got married when I was 23 and my DH was 26. Though, 23 does seem kind of young compared to today’s norm. My kids are 7 and 3, so I won’t have to experience them leaving for a while yet, but we’re such a close family that I’ll probably bawl my eyes out when they do!

  5. You connected here, Pam. I was married at 21, divorced at 42 and have stayed happily single. When my youngest moved out at 18 (we got along fine, were very close in fact, but she wanted to spread her little wings), I was all by myself. For a few weeks it was awful. Then as the worry lifted a little it became fine. She is now married and living in California. Luckily her brother settled close by. His family makes my life wonderful. And I have two kitties to fuss over. Hugs on the empty nest!
    Elizabeth

  6. Pam,
    I’m an empty-nester, but I had my kids home longer than most. They didn’t go away to college, but stayed home to go to the local university. Maybe that made it harder, because when they finally moved out, I cried my eyes out. My younger child, my daughter left at 23 and I remember sobbing for days. But life is good. My son’s room is now my office and my favorite room in the house, my daughter’s room is the gym/guest room. We’ve adjusted. We can do for “US” now. My kids didn’t move far away. They come for dinner. We have lunch. I hear from them every day. It’s the way it should be. 🙂
    But that doesn’t mean I don’t look at their baby pictures and wonder how they grew up soooo fast.
    Charlene (married to her high school sweetheart for 33 years)

  7. Pam, It’s like we were separated at birth!
    My baby, the youngest of four daughters, leaves for college Sept. 2nd.
    I don’t know what to expect. She’s gone so much now I have a hard time believing much will change but I get this weird internal quaking thing if I think about it too much. I’ve been a mother for a long, long time.
    I will always be a mother, too, of course, but it’s different.
    I told my husband we needed to go on a second honey-moon to rekindle the romance. He just gives me this perfect…MAN…look like, horror.
    What’s THIS going to cost? And if you want a vacation say so but don’t call it THAT. And don’t let the kids here you call it that. 😀
    I’m throwing my second wedding this year, too. Two married, two to go.
    You could write a series of blogs about THAT I’ll bet. If the girls didn’t object.
    I guess I was a child bride too, although we had both reached the extremely mature age of 20. And we had our 31st anniversary last winter.

  8. My parents married young (at 20) and had three daughters by the time they were 28. This meant they had an empty nest by their late 40s, and unless they hid their angst really well I think they threw a small party once we all left! LOL They traveled a lot those first few years. Actually went out on “dates” together. Did the type of stuff they should have done in their 20s/30s but couldn’t because they had kids at home. Now we’re scattered a bit across the country – but at least my sister with “the grandkids” had the foresight to stay close to home….

  9. My experience is very different from yours. I had my first and only child when I was in my mid-thirties. She was my miracle baby. I have treasured every stage of her life, even leaving a well-paying job to start a business so I could spend more time with her.

    We’ve always been close, even through her teen years. So last year when she left for her first year of college my emotions were in turmoil. Anticipation that she was entering the college of her choice. Sadness that she would be far enough away that we would see her only on her college breaks. Pride that she’d grown into a fine young woman, ready to take on the challenge of higher education. Emptiness, like a part of me had been ripped away.

    The day that we moved her into her dorm room and left her to start this new chapter of her life, I came home and cried. But over the course of the year, as she e-mailed and IM’d her excitement about what she was learning in her courses and the fun she was having with her new social life, my sadness about her absence gave way to happiness that her college experience was positive.

    She came home for summer vacation with increased maturity. It became clear to me that the texture of our relationship had changed from one of authority-figure- mother and child to one of mother-friend and young adult. I discovered I very much enjoy this change.

    Although I will miss her company when she returns to college next week, I will leave her with the joy of knowing she is doing what she loves. Through the year I will eagerly look forward to seeing how she continues to bloom as she prepares for her future career and a life of her own.

  10. What lovely comments! I’m enjoying learning more about my fellow Founding Fillies, and the variety of experiences you’ve all taken the time to share.

    Mary C–we ARE twins, aren’t we? Both of us with 4 daughters, 2 weddings under our belts, and our babies the same age. LOL.

    Marge, loved your perspective and touching thoughts.

    Thank you all !

  11. I’ve been an empty-nester for quite a while and I LOVE it! I have time for myself and can do the things I want to do. I won’t lie though, it was tough cutting the apron strings when my youngest left home. I cried for a few days. And then suddenly I remembered what it was like for me when I left home, the feeling of freedom to be able to make my own choices and live my life. I wanted no less for my daughter. After that, I was okay and found happiness in the quiet house. Now, I wouldn’t give it up. My chickies are enjoying finding their own way and I’m thrilled to let them. They have good noggins on their heads.

  12. I was a child bride, too. First kid at 18 🙂

    At first, being an empty-nester was really hard for me. At the time, I only worked part-time, so, when my youngest finally flew the coup, I had LOTS of extra time on my hands. I actually didn’t know what to do with myself. The house seemed soooo empty! And I actually did feel a little lonely.

    Then, I started to read again. I’d always loved reading, but barely had the time to finish a book. So, I read a lot. Then, I decided to try and write (that’s when/how I got into writing), then, the dh bought me a computer and I spent my time learning to us it. Before I knew it, ten years had passed…

    I’m used to my empty nest now, and cringe at the idea of anyone besides me and the hubby living in my house. I love doing the things I want to do, when I want to do them. I treasure my quiet time with the dh, love the solitude and time to myself.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids and adore my grandchildren. And I see all of them often. We all live within a few miles of each other and they usually stop in at least once a day and if not, we talk on the phone. Sometimes we do both (that includes my three sisters, too. Can you tell we’re a close knit family?).

    So, don’t worry, you’ll get used to it. It might take a little time, but you will. Soon, you’ll be telling yourself you don’t know how you survived those supermom/ wife/ chauffeur/bookkeeper/maid/
    and all the rest/ years!

    Best of luck!

  13. Hi, Tim and I have been empty-nesters for a few years now, and after the initial shock LOL it’s been fabulous. But when our son went off to college, I remember sitting on his bed missing him so much it hurt. When our daughter went to college two years later, she decided to spend six months at a university in England so we had a lot to get used to–and a trip to take. Yay. But for the most part, we’ve found it a “tender” time, getting used to each other again. And as for all of you who managed to maintain successful writing careers with kids in the house, I all but worship you. Carpooling, sporting events, making prom dresses etc. were all my excuses not to take time to submit. And I’m afraid I still find excuses–mainly our new grandson. Best of luck to you, Pam. I do think you’ll treasure the emptying nest soon enough; after all, there are Parent Weekends and hmmmm. you don’t want them still at home when they’re forty LOL.

  14. I was 18 and he was 20. I was 33 when I had my first daughter and 36 on the second. My oldest moved out at 19 and has since graduated from college, moved even further away and got engaged and I miss her terribly. I still have my 19 yr. old at home going to local college for the moment but with school, job, and boyfriend I hardly ever see her. I just wish they’d settle down within driving distance. My sister is expecting her 7th and 8th grandchild and in hindsight I should have had my kids sooner lol.

  15. Carol, wow! A baby at 18. That seems so young for these times, but it was more common than folks realize 2-3 decades ago. And you’re right–I’m already wondering how I had the energy when I see my daughters with our grandbabies!

    Tanya, you’ve been a loyal visitor on P & P. It’s been great getting to know a bit about you! Chickies still home at 40? Um, you’re right! I wouldn’t want that.

    Jeanne, another child bride! But you waited for 15 years to have a baby–that must’ve been a huge adjustment! Thanks for sharing!

  16. Wow, well I guess I am the only chick here that is still in the nest…LOL! I know my parents are ready for me to leave the nest since I have recently graduated from college!! LOL LOL However, I know they don’t mind the extra pair of housekeeper hands 🙂

  17. Thanks for sharing, Pam! I’m sure you will still be very involved in your daughters’ lives. Hopefully your girls will visit a lot 🙂

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