Sure, I guess it is more commonly called “Empty Nest Syndrome” but a picture of our new empty fish tank was readily available. Either way, the point to be made is that when the boys went away for a week to camp, we found ourselves dealing with separation anxiety. Nothing too terrible, we knew they were building independence, they had the potential for a wonderful week of fun, discovery and friend making, but still, we missed them and began counting down the days until they would be back home.
It wasn’t like we had a lot of time to sit idly by and think about how quiet the house was, quite the contrary. After dropping them off Sunday, we went out to dinner and just enjoyed the evening of feeling free of parenting responsibilities. On Monday and Tuesday I went to work while Jen and her mother did a little late Summer “Spring” cleaning- an annual purge of closets and stuff that has piled up. Wednesday I began my three days off work to help with the purge as well as be home for the HVAC guys to gut and replace our AC and furnace, a project that they estimated to take all three days.
We made great progress on our cleanup but ironically came across old pictures of the kids or other things that made us miss them more. As much as we talked a good game ahead of the week about how we would enjoy our week of freedom, we talked more about how it would be great to have them back. We took advantage of our time together to go out to breakfast, lunch or dinner and just talk, uninterrupted. But we also noted that even though we should take the opportunity to go somewhere where we couldn’t go with the boys, we couldn’t really think of a place where that was true. They can go with us anywhere, fancy restaurants or anywhere.
One project we completed on Thursday was setting up a fish tank. The boys have been wanting a pet and we all agreed to start with a fish but wanted to hold them off until after camp since it will be their primary responsibility. Knowing that when they get home fulfillment of this promise may be forefront on their minds, I decided to go ahead and setup the tank since their tolerance for the time to build the stand, fill the tank and prep the water would be extremely low. This way, when they get home we can go get a couple of fish and plop them right in. Thus the picture of the empty tank.
So we survived the week without them although it was a lot harder than I think either of us anticipated. On Friday we got letters from them- it sounded like they were having fun but it just made us anticipate picking them up even more. One last night without them turned into talking about them and preparing for their return. It is funny how much that dependence goes both ways. Hopefully they missed us too (they stated as much in their letters home) but of course, we also hope they had a good time. It seems we all will come away with a less on independence from this week of camp.