Nighttime in the Empty Nest comes at the end of a long day of working and occasional playing. We are hot (or cold) and tired and hungry. But we wait for dinner in a civilized fashion. There's no fussing or fighting, just anticipation of (hopefully) a good dinner and then a plop into our favorite chair, or whatever it is we look forward to doing. It is Me Time. There is no need to sleep with an ear open. There will be no nighttime emergencies from the little kidlets, nor will there be any squeaking of the front door when the last big kidlet is in for the night. Uninterrupted sleep is profound and restful.
Nighttime in house full of kidlets is quite a different story. When there are kidlets in the house, evenings can get kinda stressful. The day is about over, and everyone is hungry and tired, but pre-Empty Nest,
Hungry + Tired = Cranky.
That's how it is before dinnertime. There's fighting and complaining, there's impatient waiting for dinner to hit the table, and waiting for Daddy to come home. Sometimes, the pre-dinner hour is a "CALGON, TAKE ME AWAY!" hour, but that whole thing never worked for me. If I was ever tempted to try it, I was immediately disabused of the notion by the hunch that when I came back things would be just like I left them, only probably worse.
The after dinner time goes fairly smoothly with a good routine in place. Every little kidlet of mine loved to play in the water, so unless something was seriously amiss, bathtime was funtime. Often I had to wait until the water had cooled and wrinkled their fingers and toes into prunes before I could coax them out peacefully, but once they were out there was cuddling and snuggling and fresh pj's, and life doesn't get too much better than that.
Well, except for the Bedtime Story! For someone like me, the Bedtime Story is a Highlight...it is the Crowning Touch to the End of the Day. Story books, classics, Mother Goose ... aaaahhhh ... books ... one of life's greatest pleasures.
And then sleep.
Bedtime for them was early, and they were all soundly asleep before bedtime for me came around a few hours later. Before I slept, I checked in on each of them. Made sure they were covered up. Made sure they were breathing. Made sure they were marveled over. If I happened to wake up during the night, I made a second round, but mostly, once they were nestled all snug in their beds, we did not hear from them again for the next 10-12 hours.
As much as one may (or may not) miss the hustle and bustle of kidlets, nighttime in the Empty Nest is lovely. It is dark and quiet and peaceful.
The nighttime stillness of a full house is altogether different. It is still dark and quiet, but it is alive and full of promise.
And for all that...
"There was never a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him to sleep."