Could it be the end of  Empty Nest Syndrome?  

This past weekend we had a chance to hang out with the boys.  We met them in Leesburg, VA for a wedding (my niece, their cousin).  It was a fun event, being able to see extended family ina pseudo responsible pandemic environment.  The wedding was beautiful. The ceremony was perfect and the venue amazing.  And of course the stars of the show, the bride and groom, were stunning and looked very happy.

The second best thing of the weekend, for us, was to see the boys.  We got to hang out together and chat (along with their uncle and other cousins who stayed with us in the rental farm house).  And of course, watch soccer.  We partied at the reception and I even convinced Ben to sit down for an interview before the wedding (check out DaddyCast Rewind Episode 5).

It was during this interview that he reinforced what Josh had said a month ago when I hadm him in front of the microphone before he left for college.  Both boys noted how we raised them in an environment where they felt (and feel) open to talk to us about most anything.  We know that talking about girls in their life is still taboo but most of the other important stuff is shared and discussed without filter.

Other elements of their upbringing came up in this interview also.  It seems we prepared Ben well for apartment life and never really talked down to him (again, allowing him, even at a young age, to feel heard).  And we enabled him (and I assume all of this applies to his brother, too) with a good foundation, without “giving” him everything, so he still had/has some skin in the game.

So I feel we did our job.  We achieved the goal of raising adults who are sound, have a moral compass, a work ethic, are bright and in many ways ready to take on challenges on their own.  We will still be their parents but the roles of the day to day interjection into their lives are gone.  And now I am okay with that.  For some reason I feel like hearing it from Ben (which I had already heard from Josh) makes it real.  They both agree.  Our roles were successful and we can move on to focusing on other things.

The question is what?  Nothing will be quite the thrill of parenting.  The struggle-to-reward spectrum it creates.  The highs and lows.  The total consumption of time and energy and yet the feeling of accomplishment and achievement.  There will be nothing like it but there has to be something out there to turn this energy and the focus toward.  To work at and feel accomplished?

For now, the soul searching has begun.  Perhaps a charity or cause that can help fill the void?  Or new hobbies?  So far, fitness has done a good job of fitting the bill but that only seems like a slice of the fulfillment pie I am seeking.  Hopefully blogging will be a part of the search and I can keep you informed along the journey.  Have goals, will travel.