A Saturday Idyll—Family Style

Tom had a rare free Saturday afternoon this past weekend, and he asked me out on a “date.” We strolled a mall, had lunch, visited a favorite candy shop and generally just enjoyed the all-adult conversation.  We were sitting and discussing how pleasant it was to not be interrupted by one of our brood when, with perfect timing, Tom’s cell phone rang.

“Hi! It’s me, Will!  Whatcha guys doing?”

I could hear the cheerful, piping voice of  our 12-year-old son from where I sat. Tom smiled a little ironically and told him we were sitting and talking about how great it was to have adult conversation for a change. Will, missing the irony, informed us of the details of what he was eating for lunch and asked us when we were headed home. We gave him a vague answer and Tom rang off.

We continued our conversation for a few moments more when the cell phone rang again. We looked at each other and started laughing. This time it was son #2, calling from a different location, wondering where we were and what we were up to. Tom told him and after a few moments of chatting, he hung up.

“What was it we were talking about again?” he asked.

“How great it is to not have kids interrupting us,” I answered wryly.

The cell phone got turned off, and for a while longer, we strolled the mall. The little train was running near the Sears store. It’s just big enough for children to ride, and we watched the happy preschoolers board while their doting parents watched them.

“Doesn’t seem like that long ago when our kids were on that train,” Tom commented.

“And now,” I added ruefully, “they call us on the cell phone every few minutes.”

Tom and I have talked a lot about the little Schlueter who, Lord willing, will be joining our family this summer. When we think about our ages when this youngest will be 20, we realize that we are unlikely to ever be truly empty-nesters. At times, that can be a little overwhelming. On the other hand, when I think about how lonely an empty house would be, I realize that having a young one around as a senior must be a great blessing. I sometimes complain about the intrusions, the eternal car crises of our young adult children, the grocery bills and so forth, but then I realize that loneliness would be far worse. To have nobody to care for at all would be a hard adjustment. I picture myself in my favorite reading chair, the house clean and orderly, Tom in the basement practicing his trumpet and me sobbing into a hanky because my children are all grown up.

My children have been stretched out as far as is possible. I became a mother at 20 for the first time, and now at 42, I bookend my maternal years with another one. While all the negatives and difficulties can come to mind, in the end, I’m glad to still be needed. When one of my older sons gives me a hug or shows an act of unexpected kindness, I realize that all those years of love and care as a mother are not forgotten by them. Some day, they will peel off and leave. But they’ll know that as long as we are here, a welcoming lamp will always be in the window, and our door will always be open to them. There’s nothing in all the world like family, and I’m thankful to have a large one. Next time Tom and I head off on a date, however, the cell phone stays off!

10 thoughts on “A Saturday Idyll—Family Style

  1. Cheryl says:

    My family follows a similar pattern…I gave birth to my first baby 10 days before my 20th birthday. I had a baby in my 20’s (two years later). I had a baby in my 30’s (11 years after #2). And our last blessing came when I was 40! So technically, I have had a baby in the last 4 decades of my life. 🙂 And I must add that they are ALL blessings!
    We, too, have considered how old we will be when we finish homeschooling our youngest. Hmmmm…. But I would not trade my life for anyone’s! Investing in the lives of those with whom God has entrusted me is a high calling which I take quite seriously. Children of the righteous are a true joy!
    You are blessed! I rejoice with you…and I pray for a healthy pregnancy and delivery!

    In Him, Cheryl in MD

  2. Jessica Fales says:

    Thanks for reminding me of the joy of being a mom. Tonight was hard. I gave my two year old a hair cut tonight. He really did scream like I was killing him. That made me angry and frustrated. Your blog is such an encouragement.
    Thanks, Ingrid.

  3. Lisa K says:

    I had my boys almost 11 years apart. My youngest is now 11 and it’s hard for me to adjust to the fact that I don’t have a “little” boy anymore. Right before my youngest turned 11 I kept having dreams that I had another baby boy. I think it was because my body-clock was “set” to having a boy every 11 years!
    My sister has six children that range in age from 30 down to 4. She will never have an empty nest and she likes it that way.

  4. Carol says:

    Hi Ingrid, I’m glad that you and Tom had some time out together! If you continue that when you can, as well as some time to yourself, you will have a balanced life and be able to cope with another child who will need you. I am an empty nester who only gets to see her two grown children (and four grandchildren) who live on the other side of the country once or twice a year. I had for years wanted a third, but that was not in God’s plan for me. Over the years I have occasionally screamed and cried hard over the loneliness. It has gotten better as I am now well into my 50″s and I have accepted it. I once heard a pastor’s wife say that the single women that she knows want to be married and the married women want to be single. Sad, but human nature has us always wanting what we don’t have! I have heard young mothers say that they can’t wait until their kids grow up, and older mothers who wish that their kids were still little to hold in their lap! It is hard not to have mixed feelings. I guess that we all need to be grateful for what the Lord has for us and accept it and see the blessings in it. It is hard to be gracious 24/7 when we are tired, but He uses all of our circumstances for our good and to make us more like Him. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us! Praise the Lord! God Bless, Carol

  5. Ingrid Schlueter says:

    Fortunately, Tom really values getting away sometimes, as I do. I’m blessed in that my husband makes time for this. We like to take mini-breaks and have for years, which has really been a mental health saver. We have several little resort towns and nice areas about an hour or two from the Milwaukee metro area like Lake Geneva and Door County and Cedarburg which have B & B’s or resorts where we stay. Even a day and a night away with a quiet dinner is restorative sometimes and doesn’t have to break the bank if you save up. One of our favorite places is the Osthoff Resort which is at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. It’s on a beautiful little lake, with gardens on the grounds of the resort and we like to walk in that little town. That’s only an hour away and well worth the cost to just have some quiet and a change of scenery! I thank the Lord for breaks like that. They are a rich blessing.

  6. Margaret L. Been says:

    Yes, being needed is good! And I also agree about the cell phones and vacations!

    For years Joe and I took an annual 3 or 4 day “time-out” (usually just after New Year’s; I wonder why that was? 🙂 )in the beautiful SW Wisconsin country along the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers.

    Those hills and coulees are so lovely. They’re beautiful in all seasons, but for us there was something about experiencing that tranquillity in winter–and escaping the trapped feeling of being stuck indoors in cold weather.

    Very restorative for us, especially when we had a bunch of teen agers with their activities and schedules!

    I can still recall sitting quietly and unwinding after the holiday fray! Now, later in life, we can enjoy being “unwound” much of the time. That’s a blessing too 🙂

  7. Vcdechagn says:

    I read this and the first thing I thought was..

    Man, I think it’s great that your kids actually want to talk to you. So many today would say, “Wow, I never thought they’d leave!”

    Much better to be interrupted and loved! And I can tell you realize it too..because of the wry smile. My wife and I do the same thing in moments like that.

  8. Sandra Thomas says:

    Hi, and yes Ingrid – I too am 42 – married at 18! A mother at 19, had our 2nd child when I was 20, and when I was 26 we had our last – who is now our only child at home – and has started learning to drive! (My husband Chris is 3 years older)

    Our first born son married last year at 23, and my husband and I will become young grandparents in July this year!
    I admit though, I can’t imagine being a mother again at 42 – my son laughed when I told him that, and said – yes you will – every time you baby sit for us!
    I can’t wait – seriously!

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