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Grown-Up Spaghetti Sauce

1985.

That’s the year our first child was born.

It’s also the last time we were a couple instead of a family.  We are still a family, of course.  But now only a couple lives in our home.

32 years.  In fact, 4 months shy of being 33 years.

We had the most horrendous shock of our lives 3 years ago when our middle son was killed in a car accident.

Our youngest son, our next to the youngest child, moved out of our home 3 days before that accident.  His leaving home day is a blur to me.  I know I was sad that he moved out, but that sadness was so overshadowed by the greatest sadness occurring a few days later, that I don’t really remember him moving out at all.

Our youngest daughter, who is our youngest child, was going to move out a year ago, right around the 2nd anniversary of our son’s death.  But things didn’t go as planned, thank God, and she stayed living at home for another year.

This last weekend, though, she moved out of our home and in with her best friend.

It is a bittersweet feeling, this empty nest thing.  I feel like I actually accomplished something, raising 5 children to adulthood; but also like the thing I’ve spent 33 years putting my whole heart, soul and energy into is suddenly finished, and I’m sad that it is.

That’s the bitter.

My hubby and I were married almost 5 years before our first child came along, and we had so much fun in those years.  We always wanted a large family, and we certainly met that goal.  But we have also looked forward to having time, just the 2 of us again, so we can be “free” and have couple fun again.

That is the sweet.

I’ve mostly cooked like a mom for 33 years, so Ragu has been the spaghetti sauce of choice around here.  Today, with no children here or coming home for dinner, and hubby home, working around the house, it occurred to me that I could make grown-up food!  We’re not in our teens and early 20’s like we were when we were first married, so our tastes have grown up, just like our kiddos.

I remembered a recipe I have from my oldest friend, who sadly is no longer with us, while I was browsing one of my cookbooks.  It’s actually from his wife, but he usually made it when we got together to share a meal.  It is grown-up spaghetti sauce – you know, the kind with fresh vegetables, herbs and spices? – and I greatly enjoyed making it and eating it with my beloved today.

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So, we have launched out into another chapter of our lives, and once again we find ourselves trying to navigate footsteps on a new path.  This path, though, doesn’t feel as unfamiliar as ones we’ve set out on before.  This one is as pleasant and comfortable as the old pair of gloves I found in the pocket of my favorite wool coat I just pulled out of our cedar closet for warmth during the upcoming winter months.

Things I’ll miss with baby being moved out:

The beautiful sound of her practicing her piano in her room just below my office.

The soft, sweet conversations (which were getting fewer and farther between) while I was making dinner on the days she could actually be home for dinner.

The “Bye, Mom” as she rushes out the door every morning.

The lack of appropriate response to my “Bye, honey.  Have a good day.  Drive carefully.”!  (I know, I know – What do you say to your mom saying that every morning of your life?!?!)

Her red hair shining in the sun like a blazing torch when she sat outside on our picnic table and read on a sunny day.

The precious way she interacted with our grandchildren, her nieces and nephew.

The raucous conversations she and her older sister would get into when she visited.

The sweet, loving way she and her dad converse.

Things I won’t miss (at least not yet):

Her red hair in the washing machine after she did a load of her clothes.  (I just cleaned some out of it today!)

The 15 cups that suddenly appeared in my kitchen sink every time she cleaned out her car.

Discovering some of my dishes strewn about her room every time I paid a visit to her in her bedroom downstairs.

That’s all!

I love my kiddos so much, not much about them displeases me…….ever.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain.  It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.  Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.  How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate.”  Psalm 127

 

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