Facing the future without kids

I have always known that, eventually, these people my husband and I produced will move out. Many parents consider the very idea terrifying. After all, the children’s schools, activities, and sports dictate just about every aspect of our existence right now.

Conversation, expenditures, planning and even social interaction are directly linked to our boys.

The notion that I will wake up one day without a science project to oversee or a game to attend is overwhelming. Who will I be then? What will the next phase of life entail? It is all coming faster than I ever expected.

I worry that Joe and I never put in the time required during that “honeymoon” period. We never traipsed across Europe together, went spelunking or took a cooking class. We never gazed at the stars from a picturesque canyon, sharing our most sacred heart’s desires. In all honesty, we never even went on a honeymoon as I was in the middle of work chaos and Joe was in the process of completing paramedic school. Instead, we rolled out three kids in our first three years of marriage.

Talk about a buzzkill.

I do not know my husband’s secret ambitions. I do not fully grasp the dreams he once held. I do not know if he is as happy as I am simply being a family. He probably feels the same way about me.

We are definitely behind on our team-building exercises.

Though, as if on cue, Joe suggested an impromptu trip to the beach last week while the kids were in school. He had already mapped out a Yelp-approved restaurant and packed a cooler before I even hit the shower. He drove our minivan across the Indiana border, ignoring the squeaky brakes and “CHECK ENGINE” light as though the universe owed us just one more beach day (or in our case, one five-hour shift before we had to pick up someone from school).

I had my suspicions that Joe was trying to get me far away from the laundry room. My back had been on the fritz and I was edgy from painkillers. He also understands my yearly downward emotional spiral that goes hand-in-hand with the end of summer. Squeezing in a few hours of sand and sun was a sure-fire way to cheer up his embattled summer bride.

At the Indy Café, the waiter happily granted my husband’s wish of a highly-touted Sunday brunch staple and the gods seemed on our side. The beach was practically empty, providing a unique “lost-on-a-deserted-island” feel. We did a little hiking, a little talking and a whole lot of recharging.

The problem with being the only people at the beach? This picture looks like a sad widower who continues putting out a chair for his long-dead wife. Or maybe that’s just my sick interpretation.

My marriage does not have much experience operating on an intimate “just us” level. I know Joe handles disaster and challenges with strength and nobility (with a side of swearing), but what would it be like when there was nobody left to raise and all the time in the world?

After last week, I am pretty confident that our much-feared “next phase” isn’t going to be as scary as anticipated. Our team-building exercises must have occurred when we weren’t paying attention, perhaps during one of those long, scary nights tending to a sick baby and debating whether a trip to the emergency room was warranted.

It took a day at the beach to teach me that life occasionally IS a day at the beach.

And as for Joe and I?

It looks to be a high of 80 degrees today.

I take it you’ll know where to find us.

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