Friday, April 27, 2012

Empty nest? Not this year!

One of the downsides to moving away from Conyers was leaving behind our son, Alex.  He had moved out of our home and into a house his friend owned.  He was very happy to be out on his own, working full-time and going to school part-time.  A year after my parents moved in, he lost his job. With no means of support to pay for his rent Alex was faced with having to move out.and he was very unhappy.  They say you can only be as happy as your unhappiest child which meant my emotions were toast!  I do not know how I knew what to do, but I went into some sort of survival mode for the sake of my child.  I called him and calmly told him that if he came home and transferred to Ga. State he could go to school full-time and obtain a Bachelor Degree in two years.  We did expect him to apply for financial aid, though, especially if he didn't work.  He was so torn up over losing his independence, but he knew he had little choice.  Of course it didn't help matters that his roommate always told him that moving back to his parents' place was a sign of weakness and failure.  Little did the roommate know but that this is such a huge trend these days that there is a term for it.  Boomerang kids.  Generation X.  Whether due to delayed maturity or economic stress, children of Generation X are failing to launch as early as the generations before them.  They also have returned after launching, coming home after hitting tough times with school, work or drug use.  Thankfully, we never had to face any type of drug use with either child.

So, back home he reluctantly came, along with a huge chip on his shoulder.  I understood that chip.  Once I left home for college, I would have been devastated to live with my parents again.  But Conyers was becoming a total hell-hole.  Crime seemed much more rampant than when we moved there in 1989.  I have likened the change in Conyers with a scene in the movie, "It's a wonderful life", where the character, George Bailey wishes he had never been born.  Clarence, his guardian angel, grants his wish and George runs away and ends up back to town.  Everything is different.  Bedford Falls was now Pottersville and  the contrast was stark.  Bedford Falls was a sweet, little, sleepy town that could be the model for a picture by Currier & Ives or Thomas Kinkade.  Everyone smiling, conversing with one another as they walked down the street or shopped   People being helpful and caring about each other, living the Golden Rule, so to speak.  In contrast, Pottersville was brash with neon lights everywhere, loud music, drunken men and slutty women in bars that lined the main street.  Unfriendly, angry people were snapping at each other like wolves fighting over a kill.  Total unrest in the streets, shops and homes.  People merely surviving life, not living it. That's Conyers today.  Something like survival after the apocalypse like in Mad Max.   Okay, maybe not quite that bad, but close enough.  And I wanted my child out of there!

We had room for him once we cleaned out the ersatz guest room.  We got some new things like bookshelves and new bed clothes to help soften the pain.  Our daughter, Taylor was here because she has felt too immature to leave home just yet.  Having both kids here with both parents made me realize that Steve and I would not be empty-nesters quite yet.  THAT was a hard pill to swallow and I had a chip on MY shoulder for awhile.  But I got a new perspective at some point about that.  My children were young adults and I was no longer going to be a Helicopter Parent (you know, hovering?).  They would be expected to contribute as members of the household, but their decisions had to be theirs and theirs alone.  Steve and I would be here to give advice if asked, but ultimately, we wanted to let them succeed or fail on their own terms.  I read something yesterday that took my breath away.  A quote from a father to his son, "If you haven't had failures in life, it's because you weren't trying hard enough."  Over the last few years Alex has realized that being here is not so bad, but most importantly, it's not forever.  He will graduate soon and so will Taylor.  Having them here is a blessing because I am finally able to be the parent to them I always wanted to be.  As a result of having 6 adults in the house I have become more patient, calmer and less screechy, according to the kids.  There are cultures that do not understand the concept of children leaving the nest.  Multi-generational homes are more the norm.  The prospect of that used to really scare and upset me to think of being a part of.  Now it's hard to imagine it not being this way.

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