Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Stealing Time

It is no surprise to my family that I am sometimes a little slow on the uptake…or the download…or the joke…or pretty much anything that requires moderate to heavy thought. It takes me a while to realize the full breadth of a situation until the time when the situation has passed and my presence in it or knowledge of it is no longer required. Which is exactly why I’m finding myself a bit behind the proverbial eight ball lately.

You see, I have teenagers and here’s what the front page of my newspaper should have read this morning: NEWS FLASH! YOUR KIDS WOULD RATHER SPEND TIME WITH THEIR FRIENDS THAN YOU. Sure, they like my husband and me just fine, but it threw me for a bit of a loop this weekend when my son came home from college for a visit and exactly none of his plans included us…until I said something…and then I think he just felt sorry for us and modified his plans. My teenage daughter no longer has any interest in attending movies with me unless her entire freshman class is unavailable or I’m taking her shopping afterwards.

I’m really not mad or sad or even disappointed. Really. It’s just that as I’ve been carving time and space out of my life for my kids, little by little, they’re squirming away. Sort of like escaping your aunt’s suffocating hugs at family outings. They’re nice and all, but enough’s enough.

I generally think of myself as sensitive to my kids’ likes and dislikes, but I have to say that it’s finally dawning on me that they are moving on which means that my time to do the same is frighteningly near. My husband and I and our house are merely a waypoint in their life – an oasis, a filling station, an ATM, a restaurant, a hotel and a laundromat. When they are here, it’s because their friends are busy. And that’s OK. It’s truly what I would have wished for my kids if I had been asked about this when they were toddlers. (Frankly, when they were toddlers, I would have sold them on eBay to the highest bidder in order to get 10 minutes alone.)

I’m pretty sure that these are the early warning signs for Empty Nest Syndrome. Also known as “You should really get a life because your kids already have.” So I will. But this doesn’t mean that I can’t use my maternal wiles to lure my offspring back once in a while. They’re human. They can’t always resist their favorite foods…free of charge. Or a basement with a television for them and their friends…complete with a stocked fridge. And personal laundry service – they can’t beat that. No quarters needed. Yeah, pretty much I’ve decided I’ll do whatever it takes to get those precious moments with my kids, regardless of whether they feel the same.

And, in case you’re wondering: No, I don’t play fair and no, bribery is not below me.


At 2:31 PM , Anonymous dena said...

When my oldest two were in their teens, I was passed over for any friend. Now that they are 22 and 23, they'd rather hang out with me. We go out together, chat on the phone constantly and they always ask and listen to my advice now that they are out of those teen years.

Michele sent me.

At 2:33 PM , Anonymous dena said...

My oldest two kids are now 22 and 23, and they love hanging out with me. It seems as though that's the age when they lose the teen attitude and belief that friends are the know-alls and the ones that care. Now they call me for advice, and actually take it.

At 2:34 PM , Blogger scrapperjen said...

Oh, those days are coming for us - VERY soon!!!! I AM dreading them.

At 3:09 PM , Blogger Carmi said...

I find myself holding onto those moments where they want to be with us, because I know they won't last forever.

I know all parents' fervent wish is for their kids to take flight and lead meaningful lives. But the separation part scares me. I know the nature and tone of the ties that bind will change significantly in the years to come, but that doesn't make it any easier to prepare for, or to accept.

Thanks for blazing the trail, Karen. When all of our respective kids have flown the coop, we can all commisserate on our blogs about the deafening silence that remains.

At 4:19 PM , Blogger Shephard said...

What a great attitude, appreciating reality for what it is, and using it to your advantage. Everyone's happy. Or at least content.

visiting from Michele's
(on Carmi's advice)

At 6:47 PM , Blogger utenzi said...

LOL It sure sounds like your kids are normal, Karen--and your feelings as a result are pretty normal too. I've heard about this from my parents and witnessed it happening to my brother and his wife. Their oldest hit college this year.

Michele sent me to witness an empty nest in the making.

At 10:52 PM , Blogger Marisa said...

Hello Karen! from down under (wink).

How about those Bears?

Great post. And I'm sure there will come a day when you'll want your nest emptied -- it only took my parents 27 years to get rid of my brother!

At 11:32 PM , Blogger Tracie said...

I'm in that preschooler season right now, but already at church I see my daughter not being able to wait to get away from me and go to her Sunday School class or go play and talk with is already a little hard to see her branch out some, but I know it is healthy and I am content in the fact that she is still happy to come back to "check on Mommy" and give me a quick hug in between playing.

At 3:35 PM , Blogger Juliabohemian said...


My reasons for not wanting to spend time with my Mom as a teenager were mostly due to her being abusive and our relationship being toxic.

But, my sister, who is 17 (I am 29), is rather shallow and always has been. When she was younger than 13, she was happy to be invited to go places with me and my baby. In the last few years she is only interested in going somewhere with me if all other options have been exhausted or if there is something in it for her: clothing or food or something material. I actually took advantage of her being restricted this summer and went out with her one night. I still spent the whole evening pretending I didn't notice her casual hints at wanting me to buy pretty much everything.

My brother, who is now 13, is always willing to go places with me and he seems like the type who probably always will be. Maybe it's because he's the youngest of 4. He will babysit if I ask him and does a much better job than my sister ever would. In fact, I wouldn't even bother asking her.

All I can say is, continue being available to your children whether they want to be with you or not. Continue to talk to them even if they don't talk back. In a few years, they will begin to see the value of your company. And, if they don't, it's their loss.

At 2:00 AM , Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

This has got to be one of the most painful transitions...Lord, I'm not sure I could take it and I think I would definitely use bribery whenever I could! (lol)
And I wish you great good luck with that bribery!

BTW: RE: Studio 60---If you have a fairly bew TV it should have the displayt button with which you can turn on the "closed captioning" and I discovered that trick with "WEST WING"...same dialogue!

At 9:49 PM , Anonymous Melody said...

This post actually brought a tear to my eye! It did! As my mum always says to me, "Children aren't yours. They are only on loan." It's true. However I don't want to loan my daughter out.

I'm here via Michele today...

At 9:11 AM , Anonymous Pearl said...

You've seen people sing outloud to their iPods? I haven't seen computers in use either. I must be in low-tech waiting rooms. People chat. Saved the extra injuries of arm wrestling over the magazine issue from this year. ;)

At 5:28 PM , Blogger IndyPindy said...

You sound like such a great mom!


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