All three of my kids are going to school this year. My middle son has always gone, so that was expected. And my youngest was eager to start Junior Kindergarten this year, so that was also expected. But my eldest has consistently chosen to homeschool and was saying that he would do so again right up until the week before school. Then he announced that he wanted to play school sports, so he was going.
That would make for an empty house in and of itself, but my mother-in-law, who has lived with us for many years, has taken a few months to go visit her new grand-daughter in Louisiana. My step-sister, who has been crashing at our place for the last year, is moving back home with her mother. And our homestay student’s new school schedule keeps her out of the house almost 12 hours a day.
I’ve gone from a house-full to a house-empty in a matter of weeks, and I confess that it’s requiring an adjustment. The uninterrupted time is amazing, of course. I’ve accomplished more in the past week than I did all summer, and I’m starting to lose the sense of perpetual multi-tasking that’s been rattling around in my head since… well… since I had kids.
On the other hand, early in the afternoon, after I’m through the worst of what I need to get done for the day, and after I’ve eaten my lunch, it starts to feel a bit quiet. I remind myself that it will be plenty loud again once school lets out, only a couple hours away, and I remind myself too how much more efficient I am with nobody derailing my train of thought, but it still feels wrong somehow.
I’ll adapt, of course, and I’ve started scheduling my meetings at about that time, so it won’t always be so quiet, but having an empty house does serve to remind me of the community and belonging that come with a full house. As much as having everybody so close can be frustrating at times, it can also be wonderful and fulfilling.
I knew that. I really did. But having an empty house has reminded me all over again.
Luke Hill is a stay-at-home father of three boys, aged nine, seven, and three. He has fathered, fostered, adopted, or provided a temporary home for kids anywhere between birth and university. He has taught college courses, adoption seminars, camp groups, Sunday School classes, rugby teams, not to mention his own homeschooled kids.