It’s official. I’m a total sucker. And, the fact that other parents are equally culpable doesn’t make me feel better.
Yesterday, I drove from Atlanta to Chicago. An eleven-hour, boring ride through parts of Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois. An exhausting trek that involved battling rain, construction, and slow moving eighteen-wheelers. A solo journey as a result of a husband who bailed at the last minute to go on a business trip instead. (I’ll deal with HIM later.) A few “vacation days” from work to help move our daughter to her new home.
And where was my precious child while my Prius chewed up the miles? Patiently waiting for me in Chicago, because she flew up there a few days before. Yup, that’s right; she embarked on a two-hour flight and I drove for half a day.
My husband’s brother and his wife just did the same thing. But, they drove eighteen hours – from Boston to Atlanta – to move their daughter into a new apartment. She, in turn, hopped on a plane and met them. To make matters worse, a friend from Ohio is about to take her son to college in Arizona and is planning to drive the thirty hours it’ll take to get to there. This is all crazy!
What’s wrong with today’s parents? Are we micromanagers? Did we enable dependent and needy behavior? Do we not trust our children to fend for themselves? Are we unable to let go?
After my freshman year of college, my parents didn’t pack me up or drive me anywhere. I became responsible for my stuff and for moving myself to and from school. When I got married after graduation (I was only twenty-one at the time), my new husband and I drove ourselves, moved in, and set up our new apartment in Syracuse. When we relocated to Boston (at the age of twenty-five) and later transferred to Atlanta (at twenty-seven), we didn’t ask for or expect any help. We managed just fine. We did what we had to do.
Now, I’m sure my parents loved and were concerned for me. And, if I were in desperate need of their help, they would have been there for me. But, I wasn’t and they weren’t. We left the nest and they sat there smirking; calmly waving goodbye.
Today is somehow different. Precollege, during college, and now post-college. My kids just assume that I will be on hand to help them in some way. And, because they genuinely seem to want me involved and engaged, I willingly oblige (apparently other parents do too!). I honestly can’t believe how often – in different States! — we’ve frequented Target; Bed Bath & Beyond; Ikea; Best Buy; Home Depot; and Lowe’s. I’ve constructed furniture; painted rooms and hung artwork; made beds and installed cable; hung curtains and fluffed up pillows. I’ve spent a small fortune and shlepped big bags all over town – to prove that I’m caring, loving, and supportive. Aaarrrggghhh! I guess I can only blame myself for enabling this expectation…
Okay. That’s it. I’m drawing lines with my maturing children. They don’t need fully and perfectly furnished apartments with every possible creature comfort. They CAN survive with just the basic necessities. They can take care of themselves. I was fine so I know they’ll be fine. They officially have moved out and are now on their own.
Once I make sure my daughter knows how to get from her apartment to her new office, I’ll drive my twelve hours back to Atlanta…