Where Have All the Rug Rats Gone?

I think it's finally hitting me although it has been coming on for at least two years. Before Nettl came into my life in 1999, bringing with her three lively, intelligent, sometimes demanding, usually pretty independent children ranging between the ages of 8 and 12, I hadn't thought about Empty Nest Syndrome. I'd been a single parent for many, many years and the idea of keeping my chicks nearby was not based on a parental-only relationship, but also friendship...

I'd always dreamed of having a traditional family, but life just didn't turn out that way for me for a number of reasons that were largely beyond my control. Then I met Nettl and whammo! Instant family! I admit that at first I wasn't certain that I was up to the task, and there are plenty of entries on this blog that attest to this, but if you love someone, you love their kids as if they're your own. In fact, they become your kids, or they should. Sometime around 2004 "your kids" became "our kids".

At one point we nearly had all five of our kids at home at the same time. Plus my mother. I'm family-oriented like that and I don't understand families that kick family members out, or say no to taking them in when they need help. Family is family; I don't care how old someone is. Perhaps it's my Celtic roots, but I'm all about my clan. Actually, we did have all the kids home last summer. But now, the family is paring down. Lauren's been away at school and is now making arrangements to move back to France to teach (she spent the 2007-08 school term there), Micah is looking to making a Brit of himself, Heather is moving in with Ville, and Nathan is joining the Army. That leaves just the three of us.

How in hell will I re-learn cooking for only three? I've gotten used to cooking for a platoon!

Instead of staying in this big house, we're looking for something smaller, and we're checking out places we'd like to move, away from Okieland. We're considering Ventura, Toronto, Boston, and even Vienna. Each has its share of pluses and minuses and we have certain considerations to keep in mind. Considerations that effect each of us in important ways.

It hit me last night when I was turning out the downstairs lights: No more keeping the outside lights on for someone who'll be coming home late, no more Silly Straws in the dishwasher (well, except for when Nettl has her occasional Margarita :D ), no more line of kids filing up to use the master bathroom shower early each morning, no more buying Pop Tarts and Otter Pops. No more discovering Coco Puffs that have fallen between the foot of our bed and the cedar chest there, left by a teenaged boy eating cereal while watching telly with us.

Of course, there will always be those Thanksgivings and Christmases when, through some miracle, all of the kids will be able to come home, but that won't last, because the next phase will be weddings and grandchildren, and it'll be easier for us to visit them.

All this was given to me by Nettl, who finally gave me the kind of family I always wanted to be a part of. It came later, but it came, and I will always be grateful. When we first met she said to me, "I want to give you everything you've always wanted, but never got." She has more than fulfilled that ambition.


  1. As much as I know I'm going to miss our kids, I'm looking forward to "us" time--when it finally is about us.

    I adore you.

  2. Beautiful post, Steff. And I can certainly relate.


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