I don’t know that I can ever really be a “bachelor” in the sense of a man who is unmarried and has zero responsibilities, but with my girls in Hawaii for two weeks with their mom, it’s feeling a lot like I have a big house and not a lot of people within. In Hollywood a “bachelor” is someone who lives a decadent lifestyle, is a slob and subsists on pizza and bottles of whiskey. I’m not so much going down that route – but I do find that when I cook just for myself sometimes easy wins out, like a can of soup for dinner. And cleanliness? My friends already know that I’m not quite OCD about it, but I definitely keep a clean house and stick with my routines, including making my bed every morning even when flying solo.
For the last almost seven months, however, my 13yo K- has been living with me essentially full time and it’s been a really interesting and mostly fun experience. It’s certainly deepened our already really good relationship. It’s good timing too: at 13 she’s just starting the road of teenhood and I know from her siblings that it’s a crazy journey with lots of defiance, arguments, boundary setting and pushing on boundaries.
Actually, I think that’s much of the basic parental dance: parents set boundaries and children push against them. When they’re young, the boundaries are very tight and it’s a pretty small container that a little ‘un lives in. As they grow up — and demonstrate responsibility — then the container gets bigger and bigger. So K- is just beginning to earn those rights, including getting a smartphone of her own.
Truth be told, it’s hard as a parent not to become somewhat co-dependent on your children. After all, the role of parent inherently trumps just about anything else you may do, whether it’s work-related, a hobby or simply being a friend to others. Mine are old enough that they’re not quite as dependent on my attention 24×7 but there’s no question that when K- is at home, we’re a team. And that’s a good thing. Until she’s not at home at which point it’s surprising how empty it feels.
I think it’s a tiny sampler of what’s know as the empty nest syndrome, what parents go through when their youngest child heads off to college or to their adult life, whatever that may be. The difference is, when K- does head out into the sunset, it’s my plan (for now, at least) to downsize and make some changes in my own life. I’d really like to leave nearer a beach at a minimum…
Meanwhile, I have two weeks to clean up the house, get some long-term deferred projects done, and try not to be too jealous of the beach photos they’re sending back to me from Hawaii!