I haven’t lost it. Yet.
But I’m biting my lip, and sleeping less. I’m weary, from worry. From the habit of worry.
My kids aren’t adults, but they’re getting close. More importantly, they believe they’re adults – or nearly. They’ve been living on their own – my elder for three years, and his brother, for four months. But now that they’re under my roof? The worry gene is activated again.
And I had just grown accustomed to not worrying, dammit.
My boys are required to respect my rules, and they do. Oh, nothing too tough – fundamentals like respect, civility, consideration, basic communication. What’s expected is very manageable.
Time and Timing
But the requirement to let me know their whereabouts? When (or if) they’ll be home, though spending nights with friends is a common occurrence? Not only is it a matter of courtesy, but it’s a necessity when it comes to juggling food, errands, more cooking than usual, my schedule, and a shared car.
They keep me informed, but that all-important text to do so?
It may appear after I’ve gone to bed – or attempted to go to bed.
Testing Limits vs Pushing Limits
We’ve always respected each others’ privacy in this house, and continue to do so. My sons know me to be open-minded in many respects (teenage sex at home, for example), and they’re well aware of the behaviors that concern me.
They aren’t testing limits and I know it, but they’re pushing them – and through no fault of their own. This is the natural consequence of growing up: the limits they’re pushing are mine as a parent.
My experience of my sons is largely bounded by this home and their childhood – what else could it be – and so I become the second hand recipient of their growing beyond me. The dilemma is mine, and to the extent that it spills over, theirs.
Il n’y a pas de hasard
My French friends adore the expression “il n’y a pas de hasard” which loosely translates to “it’s fate” or “it’s meant to be.”
While I sense there is truth in the feeling, I don’t buy in wholeheartedly.
As parents, we send our children out into the world tenderly and with trepidation, whether they’re five and attending kindergarten or twenty-five and starting life in a new city. Yet leaving their welfare to “fate” is the last active approach or philosophical barometer a parent would utilize, though we may be left to pray that the fates will be kind – and our wiser voices, clearly planted in their heads.
Transitions in Parenting Style
A few days ago? I was cranky.
This? It’s something different.
I am experiencing a sort of casting adrift, not unlike the weeks after I launched my younger son. And perhaps this is another variant of transition – mine, more than theirs.
So here I sit having “survived” ten days of my boys being home, cherishing some of that time already, and as for the rest – worried and irritable.
I have continued to allow some of the comings-and-goings, nixed others, and I’m accepting my own inevitable limitations. I can ask where they’re going and with whom, but at this point, I don’t know many of the people who populate their lives.
What Happens After Empty Nest?
Apparently, Empty Nest doesn’t stay empty for very long. At least, not for some of us. Older teenagers or adults return home for a variety of reasons, and personally, I think more multi-generational communal living would be good for all of us.
I’m taking deep breaths, biting my lip, digging for patience, and seeking the ability to put myself in my kids’ shoes. I’m anticipating that I’ll adjust to their presence right about the time they pack up to leave. And at this stage, perhaps the best I can do is to tell myself that all will go well – if it’s meant to be.
- What should we expect of the teenager returning home from college, or even the 21-year old?
- What about the 20-something adult returning to the nest to stay for a week, for a month or longer?
- What parental responsibilities are both reasonable and realistic as children become adults?