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Published January 16, 2012, 11:30 PM

Parenting Perspectives: All this quiet is disturbing

At first the idea of catching two straight uninterrupted NFL football games was one to be cherished.

By: Devlyn Brooks, INFORUM

At first the idea of catching two straight uninterrupted NFL football games was one to be cherished.

The Bug was off on a big sleepover adventure at his friend’s house. And Garrett, a creature who generally crawls out of his teenage man cave only for school and sports, was running about with his cousin, two youngsters free behind the wheel of dad’s car and no school ahead of them for another 48 hours.

It was a rare occasion that both boys were gone and I had no commitments, and I was going to spend it watching the football playoffs without having to referee fights over who insulted the other first or pleading with someone to clean their room, take out their dog or do their chores.

Blissfully, it was just going to be me, the dogs and Troy Aikman and Joe Buck giving me the games’ play by play and analysis.

And the idea sounded lovely until … well … it wasn’t lovely anymore.

About the second quarter a nagging, uneasy feeling crept in around my consciousness. And despite grabbing a snack and resettling into the recliner, the feeling grew from the corners of the mind to preoccupy my all of my thoughts.

By halftime, despite the fact that I could recount the complete narrative of a half of a football game for the first time in years, I realized something was desperately awry.

Oh lord, that aching silence! Where was the noise? The distractions? The blood-curdling screams? The inexplicable bumps and thumps on the ceilings and walls? The chortles of pleasure from some electronic accomplishment? The pleas for parental assistance with some chore or another were nil.

Simply stated: I couldn’t wrap my thoughts around the fact that everything that had prevented me from watching a complete football game for the past 14 years was gone. They were with their friends.

I know that one day doesn’t qualify me to understand what empty-nesters feel. But I got a pretty good preview of it, and let me just say that the feeling is disturbing.

Sure, every parent knows that one day their little chicks will fly the coop. But as the years pass and you get buried knee deep in diaper changes and day care shuffling and homework helping and athletics busing and sibling rivalries, you forget that soon enough your days will cease to be filled with all that wearying-but-heart-warming stuff.

You forget that it’ll soon enough be just you, the dogs and Troy and Joe prattling on about another football game.

You forget that soon enough you’ll find yourself one afternoon stuffed into your recliner, wondering what the hell happened to all of those years.

Thanks to the spacing in the boys’ ages, there was a time I knew I had more than 20 years of parenting ahead. And as I was stumbling out of bed for a 3 a.m. feeding or cleaning up the toys in the living room for the 10th time in a day or when I was muttering to myself because I was late running from one son’s event to the other son’s event, I’d think to myself what a relief it’d be when all it was done.

I’d daydream about what I’d do with all of that free time when I was no longer meeting my sons’ needs and could concentrate on my own.

But sitting there, listlessly watching the nail-biter of a playoff game go on, none of that seemed to matter anymore. And what did is that I knew I have less than a decade of those parental duties left, and more realistically less than five years considering they’ll both be teenagers soon. … And I already miss it.

Now, who won that game again?


Devlyn Brooks works for Forum Communications Co. He lives with his two sons in Moorhead.

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