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James Ferragut, Published August 25 2012

Ferragut: At last, the nest is empty

I became a father in 1980, again in 1984, 1986 and one last time in 1994. I’ve had kids, in one incarnation or another, in my house for 32 years.

My wife and I just moved our youngest son to college. He was the last of the litter.

We were “chagrined” to learn Terri was pregnant again in 1993. By that time, we had a teenager, our kids were growing up.

When Gabriel was born, I was 43 and I had done the math. I’d be 61 when he graduated from high school. It all passed in the blink of an eye. It was a glorious second chapter to our lives that we couldn’t have anticipated. Now I’m 61, and he’s in college.

Most parents our age understand that kids leave home and come back. The reasons are as variable as the stars. We send them to college, and they come back. They leave college, start jobs and they come back. They come back, and they come back again.

My oldest son left for college, worked, graduated from medical school and came back to live with us until his residency started last month. My oldest daughter moved away to college for three and a half years and realized she could expedite her RN degree by finishing it online. She wanted to save money for her wedding and the new home she and her fiancé were building by living at “home.” For six months, she did. That’s two up, two down.

My youngest daughter graduated from college and moved home until she found a job. She got a job two years ago as the lead geologist for Hess Oil in the Bakken. There are times when she gets a five-day break between projects, sometimes a 10-day break. It took her a while to learn the routine and commit to having an apartment in Fargo. She moved out last spring, but she lived at home for a year and a half. Three up, three down.

Now that Gabriel is in a dorm room, our home is without kids for the first time in 32 years. It’s quiet. Our house is cleaner and getting re-organized. Our water and electric bills will diminish. My wife is sleeping better because she’s not waiting for her adult kids to come home in the wee hours.

We haven’t established our routine yet. At less than a week, it’s too early. It may take us a while to find a new rhythm in our relationship.

But I am positive that one night in the near future, we’ll be reading or watching the telly or in a conversation and I’ll find myself saying to her: “Now then, 32 years ago, before we were so rudely interrupted …”

And if Gabriel knocks on our door, I’m not gonna answer.

Ferragut is a business consultant and regular contributor to The Forum’s commentary pages. Email jferragut50@gmail.com