Dear Grown and Flown,
For some time now I’ve felt like a cheat or maybe even a creeper as I continue to be an engaged member on your site. I wrote my book Text Me, Love Mom: Two Girls, Two Boys, One Empty Nest because back in the day, I honestly couldn’t find a community of support during that period of parenting that you focus on. I consider it ‘the next stage of parenting’ – as the kids leave home and your family has to find its bearings again.
[7 Parenting Lessons You Learn Once Your Kids Leave Home]
Ever since I was a kid I wanted to be a writer, or I could say – I wrote – poems, stories, and first-attempt novels. For sure my topics were family oriented and as a young mom I journaled about family life – until journaling became blogging.
When I started blogging I was happily ensconced in a household of my four teens – a household that bounced with the vitality of a dozen of their sunny, anxious, or love-struck friends. But I had my kids in a clump – four babies in five and a half years – and they left in a clump. I had been swept up by the energy and focus of raising my kids. When they left home, like kids are supposed to do – with their Harry Potter books, snowboards, swim goggles, huge appetites, sleepover buddies, vanilla bath products, CD collections, dirty clothes piles, new political opinions, protein powder and love, love, love – I was lost. I wrote Text Me, Love Mom cathartically, and have shared it with a wide community of empathetic parents.
[Why Our Kids Fly the Coop here.]
It’s possible I was at the beginning of a wave of bubble wrapping, helicoptering moms and dads. There are more resources now for the type of mom that I was back in the day –looking for company, direction and support as my youth departed the nest.
Grown and Flown is a magical place to peruse. It’s a place for comfort, discussion and company with all of our flying away dilemmas. But I’m starting to feel like a oldster here, almost as if I’m spying on my past. On the Grown and Flown Facebook page it says it is for parents of ‘teens and college age kids’ – and true confessions now – I’ve probably mentioned in a comment, or while offering my two bits – that my oldest is thirty-two with two little girls, but I fail to disclose that my youngest (four kids in five and a half years remember) is twenty-seven. Their formal education is behind them.
Now I read the very relevant questions about high school grad protocol, and what needs to be packed into a dorm, how much mommy advice to give a college ‘kid’, or sons not texting enough, and I feel my experiences enables me to contribute. But what is keeping me awake beside my snoring husband, and causing my midday rants has changed. Yep, my kids took traveling gap years, went to colleges, lived in sketchy situations, survived bad roommates, and romances, mental stress, unreasonable profs, and my own highly developed hovering techniques.
But now I worry differently about them; will the job force be kind to them, are their artistic goals too lofty, have their iPhones changed the way their brains function? I might have become conscious of what was too much helicoptering during college – but what about now?
The eldest is married – how do I convince my other goal focused children that the movie La La Land doesn’t represent what I believe about real life? I have faith that you can find love and pursue dreams. Along with her husband, I’ve watched (who’d have thought?) my daughter give birth – twice. Can I keep my lips zipped as she learns how to parent her own two little girls? Should I always? Am I a helicoptering grandmother? While I’ve encouraged Grown and Flown parents to bravely let go, I’m still a fairly ‘hands on’ long-distance mom to the two who’ve moved away.
[More on How Our 18 Years are Our One Shot at Parenting here.]
It there were to be a ‘they flew quite a while ago’ group of moms – what might they help me with? Let’s see – do we imagine our older millennials will make enough money to give up roommates one day? Or own modest homes? Do my kids have commitment issues or does their generation have commitment issues? Grown and Flown parents help each other with birth control advice for their sons and daughters, but now my worry is my youngest could put off being a mom for longer than science dictates she should. Do these young women realize that it is mostly movie stars that have babies in their forties?
Can I still be a member of the Grown and Flown community when some days I just want to shout, “Moms trust me, we are not as influential or current as we all think.” I do have tight relationships with my kids but now I’m more likely to worry about how close we are then that we aren’t close enough. Twenty is the new thirty. Thirty is the new forty. Do I just let go of the worry over that strange reality and continue to read Grown and Flown and give my best advice, or should I take a deep, deep breath and fly off too? Tell me Grown and Flown, what would you have me do?
With respect and admiration, Candace
Empty Nest: When the Kids Leave Home, Who is the ME Left Behind?
Don’t Worry, You are Not a Helicopter Parent
Candace Allan is the author of Text Me, Love Mom: Two Girls, Two Boys, One Empty Nest, a book about trying to stay sane and be a calm presence (ha ha) in her children’s lives, as they bust out of the bubble wrap. She likes to blog at TextMeLoveMom and to build forts and have fancy picnics with her two granddaughters. You can learn more about her and her four adult children’s media group at We Shot the Messenger, the media group for her family of artists was her idea – still she’s happy that they agreed to let her be part of it. The kids say Instagram is the new Facebook. She’s on both. And Twitter.
Photo credit: Rose Athena at Midnight Train Photography