Make the most of family time together, whenever you get it

2/28/2014

Sometimes it's the little things that make a day.

Sometimes it's the little things that make a day.

Last week, our family took a quick shopping trip together.

Not a big deal. Millions of families do that every day. Our family has done it hundreds of times over the years.

But when your kids are young adults, these trips are far and few between.

In fact, aside from vacation, I can't remember the last time the four of us went some place together.

We used to end up at the ballpark together, but that was hardly a family trip. My son was on the field, I was standing along the fence with the other dads, and my wife and daughter sat in the stands with a group of people.

Our trip happened by accident. My wife and I had to go some place. Our son decided to go along (which is extremely rare), and my wife got our daughter to go.

Our time together didn't last long, and nothing memorable happened, but when your nest is empty you take what you can get.

Life is about changes. Some are good, some are bad and some just are.

Claire and Alek went through changes when they left home for college.

Claire will graduate in May, and that will be a change, and then next year she will get married, meaning more change.

Change isn't just for the young.

My wife and I have gone through many changes, from marriage to one child, to two, four address changes, back down to one child at home and then none.

Kids don't realize that once parents get over the immediate impact of not having them around, they settle into a routine of not having children around.

It's not that having an empty nest is good or bad, it's just a fact of life.

Once the kids are gone, parents adjust.

We cook less, do less laundry, have fewer dirty dishes, and the house becomes ours again.

It took me a long time to get over the kids going off to college.

I used to wander into their rooms when they were gone, look at the pictures and get sad thinking about how time had slipped away.

I rarely do that these days, in part because I do get to see Claire and Alek often, but also because I've adjusted to a quieter house.

I used to look forward to kids coming home from school and summer vacations when they were around more.

Those days are gone, replaced by the ever-growing infrequent visits.

There will be a time I will feel what my father felt, that I wished the kids would visit more often.

Hopefully, those days are still a ways off, but that's what makes days like last week's quick shopping trip so special. You never know when they'll happen again, so I'll enjoy when they come.

Patrick Murphy, if Humphrey, Neb., is a former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.

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