The kids are growing up. They don't all live here any more. It gets harder and harder to get the whole family together, and when they are all home, what do we do?
Looking back, I have some regrets. We invested lots of time and energy in raising our children, in homeschooling them, in building strong relationships and family memories. I wish we had invested more in making our home a welcoming gathering spot for our kids and their friends. Friends have always been welcome in our home, and I love preparing food and having people here. We have had some great games of UNO and Spoons at our kitchen table. But we have not made the investments in our house and yard that would provide space and entertainment for young people and adults to congregate and enjoy hanging out. Our yard is full of weeds and holes , with only a lone basketball goal that has branches hanging in front of it. Our deck is small and wobbly, with a single lounge chair. We have a nice TV and video game systems. We have board games and cards. That's about it.
We have taken trips as a family that have created some wonderful memories - to Disney World, Williamsburg, Mammoth Caves, Washington, DC, annual trips to Massachusetts to visit family, and a 6-week cross-country camping trip to see the scenic wonders of the western U.S. But now that my kids are older, I wish we had taken some of that money and put in a swimming pool, a volleyball court, horseshoes, a game room, a bocce court. I wish there was something HERE that would attract my grown children to want to invite their friends to hang out, or would be a fun way to spend a day with their siblings, rather than wracking our brains to think of someplace we can GO that everyone enjoys and that fits in everyone's schedule.
This was my dream when our kids were small. I always wanted to have a big house that would be the hub for my children and all their friends. I wanted OUR house to be the place where everyone wanted to be. But the "dream" never turned into a "plan". It never became a priority.
And now here we are. My 26-year-old is here from TX to visit for a week, and then he is going overseas and we won't see him for at least a year. My 12-yr-old is at basketball day camp during the week, and the 23 yr old, 21yr old, and 17 yr old are all working at an overnight summercamp,, and will only be home for the weekend. So that gives us one day, Saturday, to spend together as a family. My kids LIKE to spend time together as a family. Our years of homeschooling have at least built that strong foundation. But what do we do? We thought of going to a water park or beach or amusement park for the day, but he also wants to be able to visit old college friends in the evening. All those things are a couple of hours away and need a whole day , so that doesn't work.
It would have been nice if we could have had a cook-out and invited people over to swim or play volleyball or bocce or whatever. That would have made an earlier investment of time and money well worth it.
My husband wants the two of us to splurge and go to Hawaii for our 30th wedding anniversary next year. While that sounds like fun and I'd love to visit Hawaii, once that money is spent and that trip is over, we have nothing but the memories. I would rather put that money toward something that we can enjoy over and over again and that our family could enjoy too. Maybe a hot tub.