Counting days to Ainsley's departure for college

The time will come, people would tell me.

When I would complain about constant interruptions from a 3- or 4- or 5-year-old Ainsley while I was trying to cook dinner or do some work or even go to the bathroom, people would tell me there would come a time when Ainsley would hardly be home. And I would miss the interruptions.

That time has come.

Of course the start of a new school year - other than last year's - always means more time out of the house. This year Ainsley has decided to join the cross country team, which means she walks in the door no earlier than 4:50 p.m. three days a week. On race nights she might get home as late as 6.

She also auditioned for and earned a spot in the Spirito choir this summer, and Tuesday night she had her first rehearsal. One mom picked her up at 5:30 p.m. and another dropped her off at 8:15. So Dan and I found ourselves home alone for almost three hours Tuesday night.

Did I grab a book and head out to the back deck to read? Enjoy a DIY facial? Catch up on some episodes of "Grace and Frankie" on Netflix?

No. I did chores.

Dan assembled a new desk we had ordered while I attempted to organize some items that were displaced during our renovation project this spring and summer. I ended the night with conflicted feelings, pleased with what I had accomplished and disappointed that I did not use my "free" time for something more enjoyable.

Of course, next week will offer us another opportunity to take advantage of this weekly alone time. We could go out to dinner! We could go to a movie! We could sit and talk, uninterrupted, about whatever we wanted to discuss!

It all sounds great, but the truth is, I find it strange when Ainsley is not home. I think that's why I typically turn to chores. I'm not quite sure what to do with myself.

I know I should use these times when she is away as practice, because we are likely to see less and less of her over the next six years. And then, boom! She's off to college.

My good friend Sandy invited us to her daughter's high school graduation party in 2009. Ainsley was 6 months old, and for some reason, it occurred to me that she was 1/36 of the way toward graduating from high school.

Now she's 2/3 of the way to her graduation date in 2027. And from what I hear, as fast as elementary school and middle school go, high school will go even faster.

I know this is all as it should be. I know my job as a parent is to prepare her for the time when she is able to function independently in the world. I know the key to many life changes is simply giving myself time to adjust to a new pace.

And I want her to experience all that middle school, high school, college and adult life has to offer. I wouldn't want her sitting at home all the time (or living in the basement after her college graduation).

In the meantime, I will take the moments I can get. Even now, they seem all too few.

- Pamela Lannom is editor

of The Hinsdalean.

Readers can email her at

[email protected].

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean