By Qin Sun Stubis
(originally published in The Santa Monica Star)
The scene could have been played out yesterday, though some two decades have since flown by. My husband Mark and I went to our favorite Japanese restaurant and dined together, something we did almost every Friday after an intense week of work in Manhattan. We sat in a quiet corner, enjoying an idyllic moment, staring into each other’s eyes and holding each other’s hands.
Everything was ordinary and normal except that the bump on my stomach had expanded to the point that I couldn’t see my toes any more. My baby was due any time now and we knew such a carefree moment was becoming rare and more precious day by day. Predictably, that dinner, frozen in time, was our last one out, just the two of us, before our baby arrived.
Much has happened since then. When we went out to restaurants, we became used to asking for a table for three, and then four. And before we knew it, our children grew out of their high chairs and kids’ menus. Now they stand before us as two smart and accomplished young adults, capable of ordering food in not just English, but also French.
I always knew that my kids would one day grow up and explore the world, leaving me with an empty nest. However, that understanding didn’t really prepare me for such a moment. This August, my older child headed to Baltimore to attend the Ph.D. program at Johns Hopkins, while my younger one is embracing a new life in Boston as a fine arts student at Tufts.
Suddenly, that suspended, frozen scene of dining alone with my husband started to thaw in my mind. When we go out again, I expect to hesitate for a moment before requesting a table for two. I have much to adjust to in my life, including combating my old habits with new routines, one at a time, until my empty nest is empty no more.
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