>What’s wrong with this picture?

>We just got home late last night from dropping Buddybug off at college,

again, for his second year.

He’s gone.
We are sad.
It was a long trip.
And it was an exhausting trip, what with the crazy long hot drive and packing and loading and unloading and trying to loft beds and move furniture at the same time as you need to chase down the fast four year old who is running down the hall and the surprisingly fast toddler chasing after him.
Heft that box, tote that bail, chase that little boy.
I let the men do most of the heavy lifting and cable wiring….I was left with something like a three day toddler mosh pit.

So it was a bit nuts, but our own brand of nuts, capped by the sad weeping goodbye (ok, me) and the snuffling and tears as we drove out of town (ok, me again).

You know…I know that it is hard for all families to drop off their kids at college. It’s always hard to say goodbye. And yes, we are truly happy for him that he has found a good fit and loves it there and is clearly thriving and where he should be…as far as this college concept goes. And happily, he is a young man who seems to be able to juggle the delicate balance of growing into the man he is to become and still stay connected to his family…and thus we are very blessed and thankful.

But that whole notion got me thinking and Coffeedoc and I talking this week, again……
{Yeah, we did have 9+ hours of driving in each direction. So, yeah, we had time to kill….}

And you know, in a way this is whole concept such a weird thing. A close family member, (ok – my dad,) said, “What? You’re driving him up? Does he want you to? I mean, I never hung with my family at nineteen, I was gone.” And at nineteen, I myself moved out and didn’t go home for the summer and really, never went back (shame on me and no wonder my father, yes the same one who made the comment above, was mad at me for months) and so did Coffeedoc.

Why is it that a nineteen year old is supposed to WANT to cut all contact with his family, to strike out in a solo free fall in independence? Why do people say aw, but nudge with a wink when they hear of a kid who has just well, left, for good. Why is it considered “weird” not to, or as parents are you considered “helicopter parents” if you cry when you say goodbye?

Are we freaks?

Maybe, I guess. I like to say we are nurturing parents who love our kids and see them for the amazing people they have grown up to be and, shhhh, LIKE them! And that the kid(s) are nice young people who are generous and kind enough to endure their parent’s desire to be with them and actually enjoy it a little bit as well.

So the question comes again: Why is it that to be and stay connected to family is considered somehow suspect or freaky?

Coffeedoc made a good point: it’s not. Or shouldn’t be. Or isn’t and wasn’t in other eras and cultures. This seems to be a strictly postmodern American phenomenon. Maybe not only American…but certainly postmodern. We are so set on making our MARK and being our own person that it doesn’t matter what ties are cut in the process, it’s all about ‘getting what you can and being the most you can be.’ And somehow that is solo; the uber John Wayne solo cowboy icon, applied and if you don’t like it, well something might just be wrong with you, pilgrim.

In other eras, and other cultures, it was/is NOT the norm to send your child off alone once they are capable of being more of a contributor to the family. It WAS/IS not considered a good thing for the child to want to cut ties and move away and create a whole new and wholly separate life from his family, that is what would be considered suspect. It WAS/IS the norm to enjoy spending time with your young adult or adult child and be pleased at having them feel the same way. It WAS/IS a living life together, all life long…extended, but together.

The order, somewhere along the way, flipped. The center is not holding.

And I don’t like it. I don’t like the postmodern phenom where I have to feel guilty for being so sad at having my good kind son out of the house. I can be happy for his adventures and want him to fly as high as God calls him, but also to remain connected.

I think of the classic image (maybe a fake celluloid creation or even stereotype, but meant in a positive way) of the Italian large busy family, multi generations living near each other, intertwining their mixed up lives. We could do that. I could easily put on a print dress, I’ve already got the gray hair and sturdy hands and legs and cook for a crowd. I’m all over the matriarch concept! And we love each other, loudly and quietly, with gestures, gifts, and presence. And somehow, that seems like it’s from a different era or place. But that, that image, that’s where I want to live, that’s the picture in my head. Surrounded by family, different ages and offshoots, busy but still connected and physically near close by and involved.
I think I’m moving to Italy.

7 thoughts on “>What’s wrong with this picture?

  1. >Okay, I read your blog often, but now you’ve done it. Now I have to say something. (It’s the being here and doing that thing. It makes words erupt.)I think we are (and all other parents always were) sad when they go. But I also know for a fact that how the kid reacts to that moment is entirely dependent on the kid. Some reach out and gather in and love it. Some hesitate on the brink. Some need to be (a-hem!) encouraged to try to go at all. My parents took my separation from them as a personal insult. It actually HURT them! But I remember being utterly baffled by that reaction. Hadn’t they raised me to build a life? To trust to God to help me? Why was my wanting to do that bad news to them?My own three are 20, 22, and 24 now. We’re at the launch pad. I’ve only got three, and each leaving has been different. (But the pain for me has been much the same.)

  2. >Stephanie, I’m not sure by your post if you agree that we parental types get to be sad and it’s ok or if you think I am a pitiful kook….ah well…I agree, each kid is different, and some need encouragement and some flee and some fly. I too, when I was SO ready to go, hated that it hurt my folks/dad but was baffled in the same way, this is what I had been raised to do.And we ARE raising them to be independent strong people, following the individual call for each of them. I don’t object to them going or wanting to go to the adventure that awaits. At All.And I DO also try to bind my tears at goodbye w/ a smile and grin and a ‘be good, have fun!” and so on. But I am baffled that in our weird postmodern culture it is PRESUMED that in order to fly and stretch and head off on the adventure of your life, it seems like it is a given that all ties and connections must be cut or you are ‘weird.’ Maybe that weird nudge/wink go, quickly young man sense is really a cultural cover-up for the sadness of goodbye to what and how we know….But I guess I get tired of folks laughing at the moms who cry and the dads who are blue as their kids move out….I think it’s ok to be blue, even as you are happy your kid is ready to move to adventures ahead…..That’s why I posted, I’m tired and adjusting again.

  3. >Oh no … I get it. I agree with you. I should say, I FEEL with you! (It feels to me exactly like the whole mourning/partying/happy/sad thing that happened when each one was weaned. Of course I wanted them to grow up – but … well … did it have to happen now???) I just don’t think it’s much of a “modern” phenomenon, that’s all. I think it’s just people. Anyway, all I really wanted to say is that I feel your sadness. I’ve got it going on here too. And I love your blog. Those are some real (and real happy) kids you’ve got there, and it makes me happy to know your family exists. If anyone’s laughing at you, it’s only because they wonder at the Love they see, and they don’t know its name yet.

  4. >I’m like you :). My family is like yours. We all live near each other (well, in the same state) and actually like each other and cherish each other. I have two brothers and three sisters… and we go off and do our own things, and come home, and love it, not b/c our parents forced us to, but b/c we love being with each other. That doesn’t make us better or more loving than families who live far away. it’s just what we do, it’s just our choice. And we all get lots of criticism for it, and we just smile and take it, because we don’t care. And after a really hard week like this one was for us, I thank God that my mom and dad and in-laws and brothers and sisters are hear to love us, to be our support, to be what we lean on. You are awesome 🙂 becca

  5. >I’ve had similar thoughts, especially after having lived a few years in a European culture where it just wasn’t economically prudent to take off on your own at age 18. It’s all a balance–you know what they say about those Italian “mamas’ boys,” but I also find it weird when parents (like one of Ted’s siblings) hardly know anything about the guy their college-grad daughter is dating. In this case, the daughter doesn’t want her parents knowing because her mom is definitely a “hoverer” in the worst sense–an unhappy worrier who wants to know every detail. Anyway, good post. Reminds me of that song by Sara Groves that I posted a while back. here’s the link:http://ourownrooney.blogspot.com/2008/05/milestone.html

  6. >For my husband and I it comes down to this, we are happy for the children to leave, because they want to go away but sad because they leave. I think it depends on why the children leave, it is out of a desire to get away from parents and family, or is because of school or job oppurtunities. I left home to get married, but then we left to go to another state, partly because of a desire to get away from parents. That was not a good situation. Our children have left in positive ways, stay in touch and certainly come home for breaks and so forth. Our son even brings his friends back with him! So, again, the leaving is a growing up process; not an ‘I need to ditch my family’ process, so in the end it’s good, though at times difficult. And I think that it’s difficult for both, parent and child, but change often is.

  7. >very good post- thank you for saying this out loud. I’m a 34 year old mom with a growing family who chose to come back to a rural area to be near my large family. I chose this for me and my kids. My sister, who lives in a far off cool town with cool music and restaurants and coffeshops, etc. is afraid to move here with her husband even though she yearns to experience the love, joy and support of her family. . . . I learned much from traveling far in college and during summers but I chose to come back and in that choosing, have realized that I had a lot more to learn. Sitting, watching the grass grow with my first child was the most transformative year of my life and I was nestled into family. It’s the quest metaphor– sometimes it’s not the destination that holds all the answers; most of the time they are in your heart from the beginning.


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