Are there any other people who are experiencing what Sarah and I are living through? Are there other stories like ours?
Twenty-five years of child-rearing trained us to pay attention to the lives of the five unique personalities placed in our care. We spent our time between watching and participating in the developing story of our children’s lives. We helped write the first few chapters, but now they author their own stories, independently and from a distance.
I must believe that many other moms and dads of grown children are experiencing and struggling with a similar change in roles… From story director to story observer.
There is a feeling of loss at first. Not only of the physical presence and the missing sounds of young voices, but of the missing responsibility that comes with actively directing the story for so many years. There is a realization that the independence that you promoted for so long has turned on you, and left you only to watch what happens next.
It is hard to sit on the sidelines when for so long you have been in the middle of the action.
What can be done?
The answer lies in the realization that watching and participating in the life story of our family doesn’t end at the empty nest. We learn to contribute from a different perspective and find ways to add value to the growing stories being written in other locations.
In our case, it involved building an electronic mimic of our family room, where everyone could join for a few hours of conversation and fun together. This is a place where mom and dad can electronically watch and participate in the story again. An internet family night, if you will. A web-based party like those we hosted in our family room many times before.
Our family game will never take us back in time or fill the house with the sound of childrens laughter… But for a few days during the party, we can enjoy the familiar arguing between our children. We can experience the humor and the cleaver banter of our new “in-law” children, and witness some of the stories that they are all now telling.
For a short period of time, their lives join with ours on the pages of a website, in an activity that promotes telling stories and sharing fun as a family.
As far as I am concerned, that is the great story that we share with you, and we plan to stick with it…