"Tell me why when a person says they enjoy the empty nest another person counters with - Oh, but I am close to my kids. ARGH"
Receiving this sort of frustrated tweet is not uncommon for us, this one came while sitting with our morning coffee in a hotel cafe.
I had just returned from using the lobby bathroom where I overheard a cell phone conversation in the stall next to me.
Yes, I admit I was eavesdropping - but I have two lame excuses.
1) We had just arrived back to the States from Europe and my ears were trained to zero in when English was spoken and
2) This woman - we'll call her Dorothy - was not trying to keep her voice down.
As we sat side by side with just a thin metal barrier between us, I was made privy to Dorothy's life and woes. She was laying it all out to some poor set of ears on the other end of the phone line... complaining about her son, his lack of ambition, the fact that he was living in her home at 30-years-old and on and on and on.
Next came a plethora of excuses for Boomerang Boy...the ill-fated college attempt, the series of jobs he'd been fired from, the mean ex-girlfriend and on and on and on.
I had finished my business in my stall but remained quiet-as-a-mouse seated - I was hooked. My own little personal soap opera, no TV required!
Then came the kicker. Dorothy began to bad mouth her sister-in-law for having the audacity to suggest that Dorothy kick Boomerang Boy out of the house.
"She said that he needs to stand on his own two feet - I told her that I didn't agree at all. After all, I love my son. I feel sorry for her kids."
And there it was. I hightailed it out of there before I could hear any more.
Back in the lobby as I was retelling Dorothy's story to David, the aforementioned tweet came in. It got me thinking.
What causes this leap of logic? Why are folks so quick to jump to the conclusion that we who embrace the "empty" nest are somehow bad parents?
A while back, we were profiled in the Huffington Post and were giddily overwhelmed by the discussion the article created. The comments were by far more positive than negative, but an interesting little theme popped up here and there:
"Why do people like this even have kids?"
"Doesn't sound like they were very close at all. How sad for the kids."
"It almost seems like they just wanted to forget they even had kids."
Are those of us who choose to be defined as GypsyNesters - rather than empty nesters - selfish, unloving parents? Have we forsaken our children for our own dreams?
We have met some incredible GypsyNesters on this journey of ours, people going back to college, volunteering in their communities, writing that novel that has been percolating for years, reconnecting with their spouses in new and exciting ways. They are embracing this new chapter of their lives.
For these wonderful folks will I make this argument:
As parents we want to raise moral, self-sufficient, happy adults. That's our job. When that job is finished, it's a reason for celebration. It is not time to sulk, it's not time to burden your offspring with tales of your woe - THAT's selfish.
|"The kindest thing you can do for the people you care about is to become a happy, joyous person."
- Brian Tracy
Not that I've been exceptionally perfect in this regard. I've got plenty of growing to do.
As a Recovering Helicopter Mommy I've had my hideous backslides. I've stuck my big pointy nose in where it doesn't belong. I've struggled with allowing my own fears to interfere with my Spawn's growth. I made WAY too many relentless phone calls when I thought The Piglet and Decibel were in danger. I still find my self-righteous teachable moments.
And, yes, I cried like Tammy Faye Bakker on the second day of her period when each of my children left the nest. As a matter of fact, I still go into a days-long pity funk every time I have to say good-bye to one of them.
My job as a mother is never actually finished - I will always be there for The Spawn. But I have to let my children go to grow. When my time here on earth is done, I will not have done my job well if The Spawn can't make it without me.
YOUR TURN: What are your thoughts on embracing the "empty" nest? Am I selfish? Should I have left the task of procreation to others? Leave a comment!
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