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Tag Archive: children

Sep 09

Empty Nest Syndrome isn’t always depressing

Psychologists create new conditions with aplomb, and a faddy one of late is “empty nest syndrome.”

Since Baby Boomers are now of the age when their offspring have flown the nest and since there are so many of us in that category, “empty nest” seems to fit at first blush.

Life coaches, psychologists and family experts are only doing their job when they counsel folks about the sadness and loss they experience when their kiddos leave home.

Do not get me wrong. I am sure there are some parents suffering mightily from this syndrome.

However I have to wonder, where are they?

How many depressed “empty nesters” could there be anyway?

No one I know.

My observation of “empty nesters” is quite different than that of the experts who apparently see boat loads of depressed parents who wander around aimlessly for weeks crying buckets of tears when their teens leave home.

I remember a cartoon I saw when my youngest child started school. I laughed out loud at the time. It applies now just the same as it did then.

The cartoon strip followed a mom as she walked the last of her five children to the bus on her son’s first day of kindergarten. She was telling him how much she would miss him but encouraged him to enjoy his first day of school.

As soon as the bus was out of sight, the mom in the cartoon pumped her fist into the air and yelled, “Yes!”

My thinking is there could be a lot of parents of college students saying “Yes”, too.

Friend Cassie recently packed up and launched the last of her three children to a college miles away.

Cassie explained how she felt this way:

A milestone occurred in my life last week. David and I became empty-nesters when Link left for college.

So, you may wonder, was it a sad event?

Actually, I was kind of busy, so I didn’t really notice.

The same day that Link moved into the dorm, my dog Roxy and I had our first agility trial. I had been anticipating this competition for months, so launching the last-born just had to go on without me.

Mind you, I didn’t send my baby to parts unknown all by himself.

Big sister, Becky, went along to help with the actual moving in. Link said that was much better anyway because she can carry a lot more stuff in one trip than I can.

It’s very exhilarating to have kids who are independent.

I’m entering a new phase of my life, and I’m jumping in with both feet.

My plans are to challenge myself in new ways and enjoy every day with enthusiasm and gratitude.

Thank you Cassie. Words of wisdom indeed.

Lots of us are allowing ourselves the freedom to do the same and to enjoy our long-lost passions.

I, for one, have taken up writing again and there are not enough hours in the day to accommodate this new found pursuit.

Some couples delight in taking cruises to just about everywhere the cruise liners allow.

Some take extended weekends to the lake.

Others take up long lost hobbies such as fishing or restoring old tractors.

Dennis, a widower, is off to DC whenever he can to spend days visiting the endless array of museums there.

Jim took a different job, something brand new that challenges his creativity and allows him to travel.

Margaret is quilting once again after years of neglecting her much-loved hobby.

As Cassie says, “I hope that you will also nurture the joyful you and allow yourself the freedom to enjoy your passions. Then when life makes an adjustment—like when all of your children grow up and leave home—you won’t find yourself floundering for fulfillment.”

One of Cassie’s favorite sayings goes like this, “Wherever you go, there you are.”

May you find yourself in good company.

Aug 26

College move-in day tough for parents

In the month of August of every year, college-bound students pack their myriad of belongings and leave home.

For the freshman, it is often their first time away.

You can spot then easily that initial day on campus.

They are the ones who flee as far away as possible from their embarrassing Baby Boomer parents.

For others, upper classman or career students, college move-in day is “old hat.”

Mom and Dad do not mortify them quite so much anymore.

Sophomores to seniors know that parents are good for a few necessities, notably food, cash, and gasoline for starters. It takes the Frosh a bit longer to figure this out.

Upper classmen actually enjoy their parents better than they did when they were freshman. We cannot assume, however, that means parents are to stay any longer on move-in day than to unload, fix things, and provide food.

Upperclassmen are ready to be taken out to lunch immediately after they dump their possessions on the floor of their rooms.

Cash is the priority now. Skip the décor.

Freshman just want their parents to leave.

That fact, however, does not mean that all parents will leave. Some have been known to stay in a motel for a couple of weeks just to make sure their students are adjusting well and that all needs are met.

As a veteran of I-don’t-know-how-many college move-in days, I do not recommend that parents hang around very long.

It could get very weird.

Whatever you do if you are the parent of a fraternity guy, do not go upstairs in any fraternity house until Family Weekend!

After the freshman year has passed, parents of a sophomore may notice that their student does not need to spruce the new place up much. No one appears to care any longer if the bedspreads match or if there is a comfy rug on the floor.

Designer room décor will come back into the picture later when students move into apartments during their junior and senior years and beyond. Be ready then to visit a lot of furniture stores or garage sales.

And, as the unlucky of us know, some students do stay on into the “beyond” years.

One thing we parents learn through “the school of hard knocks” is that college move-in day is both physically and emotionally exhausting.

It does not matter if it is the first year or the fifth or even the eighth for some.

Oh, my.

By the way, I do not believe any parent who tells me they enjoy driving for hours to the chosen college in an overstuffed car full of boxes, shoes, and cleaning supplies.

Neither do parents thrill at the idea of pulling a U-Haul trailer crammed full of their student’s belongings only to have to unload in the rain and lug small refrigerators and microwaves to the third floor.

Whenever other students appear on the scene, be warned. Parents will be shunned from that moment on and become invisible to their student but not unnecessary.

Dads can be seen on college move-in day carrying their DeWalt power tool cases into the dorm rooms while Moms are making at least three Wal-Mart runs for more extension chords and curtain rods.

Why do parents gladly put themselves into slave labor mode year after year on college move-in days?

I am guessing it is because we are completely lost in this strange new way of life.

Simply put, we are lost at the prospect of living without our kids.

One way for parents to hold it together for a little while is to clean a room, drill holes, install closet organizers, and assemble a bed frame.

It helps.

Kids, on the other hand, are not sad at all. They are living in a room the size of most closets and lovin’ it.

Parents find themselves alone for the first time without kids to supervise and with absolutely no idea how to refocus.

This new stage of life takes a bit longer for parents to love than it does for the college gang, say maybe two weeks. By then, we are dusting off our dreams and getting busy reinventing ourselves.

On move-in day there are a few perks worth noting.

Parents can commiserate with one another comparing horror stories about college move-in days.

Students can commiserate with each other comparing whose parents were the “nerdiest” and whose acted the most stupid.

And years later when no longer at odds, parents and grown kids finally get on the same page.

Once again, parents work hard to set up a new apartment for the recent college grad or help the newlyweds find their first house or paint a nursery.

Move-in days never end.

You will never want to be without them.

Nov 26

Holiday holds odd placement.

As our story begins, Robert is confused about when Thanksgiving Day will happen this year.

Robert (aka Robby to his family) is away at college studying weighty and honors-type curriculum.  Robby is also planning the trip home for Thanksgiving break.

Note: The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

“So just when is Thanksgiving this year?” Robby asks.

To which Mom incredulously replies, “It is always the fourth Thursday of each November. How could you possibly have missed that all the way through grade school and high school!”

Robby comes back with, “But Mom, the date is different each year.”

Mom rejoins in her best impression of Charlie Brown characters Lucy and Linus, and cries in mortification, “Argh, you Blockhead!”

To which Robby, who by all standards is quite brainy, proceeds to give Mom a history lesson on Thanksgiving. He just does not know when it falls this year. Sure knows his history though.

Here, then, is the abridged version of “The History of Thanksgiving Day”, according to Robby and Mom, student and editor, in that respective order.

  • The Pilgrims arrived in America in the fall of 1620 after fleeing religious persecution in England. The trip had a stopover in Holland where they lived awhile collecting their fortunes. Unfortunately, the Dutch were too loose in their lifestyle for the Pilgrims’ liking. The Pilgrims thought the Dutch might corrupt their children and destroy morality. So, off they sailed after a few years to a new land filled with hope and freedom.
  • Luckily, when they arrived at Plymouth Rock, now well-known to all school-age children, they found the perfect spot to locate. It was a campground, long abandoned by Native Americans. A clear fresh-water stream was nearby, and a variety of wildlife and native flora were plentiful.
  • Unfortunately, the first winter was brutal and nearly half the settlers died from both illness and the cold, harsh weather. By the next year with the help of friendly English-speaking natives, Samoset and Squanto of the Abnaki tribe, the Pilgrims were able to survive and enjoy a bountiful harvest. Some speculate this occurred during the full moon of October.
  • Time to celebrate, and, celebrate they did! Most historical records of that first thanksgiving celebration, as proclaimed by Pilgrim Governor William Bradford, say it lasted three days.
  • Massasoit, chief of the Wampanoag, and his tribe joined the Abnaki and the Pilgrims at the festival. After all, they had all worked together planting crops, salting meat, and tapping maple trees for sap. They played games, ran races, and just had a jolly old time, not to mention the fact that the food they enjoyed was strange, quirky, and quite delicious. Turkey, salted deer meat, corn, fish soup, berries and nuts were the fare of the day.
  • The custom continued throughout the years even though some harvests were bleak.
  • During the American Revolutionary War in the late 1770’s, the Continental Congress suggested a day of national thanksgiving.
  • On Nov. 26, 1789, George Washington issued a day of proclamation and a public day of “thanks-giving” and prayer.
  • President Abraham Lincoln also declared “a day of thanksgiving and praise” on the last Thursday of November, 1863.
  • For 75 years after that, the President of the United States formally designated each year that Thanksgiving Day would be celebrated on the last Thursday of November.
  • In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt knew that businesses needed help staying afloat during the Depression and decided to lengthen the shopping period before Christmas. He set Thanksgiving one week earlier in order to help out the economy. No kidding. Pundits say he would have done anything back then to get the country out of the Depression. When he changed it to the third week of November, some folks took to calling it “Franksgiving!”
  • Finally, in 1941, Congress ruled that the fourth Thursday of November would be the official day of Thanksgiving and would, thereafter, be a legal, federal holiday.

Now, you know all Robby knows about Thanksgiving and more, but I digress. Back to our story.

Robby, still not clear on when Thanksgiving will occur this year, asks Mom what day she plans to have her big Thanksgiving feast.

In desperation and with her voice filled with resignation, Mom replies, “Hey honey, do this. Check the TV listings for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. That is the day we will have our big dinner.”

“OK, Mom. See ya. By the way, I have a ton of laundry I’m bringing home.”

Sigh. “Bye son.”

End of story.

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