Sunday, January 9, 2011

Empty Nest: Take 3

For the past three and a half years, my world has consisted of the doggie princess, my grown daughter, and my thinks she's grown - but in a cute "I wanna read the newspaper like you Gamma way" -  almost 5 year old  granddaughter.  Yesterday, that all changed.  My girls (sans the doggie princess) moved out.  It was a bittersweet day for me.  As for doggie princess, I swear she's thinking this is how it's supposed to be.  I call this "Take 3" as it's the third time I've had to adjust to my daughter moving out of my house. 

The first time was after high school when she went away to college.  I did everything but steal to make sure her first year of college was everything I wished I had the opportunity to experience.   There was only one problem with that -- she didn't really want to go to college at the time.  She was, and is, a very intelligent young lady but she has never and I mean NEVER enjoyed school the way I did when I was growing up.  As much as I thought I was one of those moms that encouraged my child to "do you", I was really saying "do you, as long as it's what I would have you do".   If I hadn't been so focused on my parental bragging rights, I would have realized she probably should have gone to community college for a year or so and then transferred to a traditional university or continued to study dance or traveled or explored any number of paths in order to discover her passion.  Lesson learned after writing numerous checks to said university and having one miserable young lady return home after a few semesters.  I'll never forget asking her why she just didn't tell me she didn't want to go to school right away and she said "because I knew that's what you wanted me to do".  Ouch.  So much for me encouraging her to follow her passions.

The second time I had to say goodbye was when she moved out to be with my granddaughter's father (yeah her baby daddy).  I didn't like dude from jump -- for her.  He was a nice enough young man, but just like any adoring parent, I thought my daughter could do better.   Plus, having been in a relationship or five in my life, he had all the signs of a young man not having yet found himself and even worse had no clue where to look.  In short, I thought he had a lot of maturing to do.   To be fair, I also thought my daughter had a lot of maturing to do but that's another topic.  Anyway, having  been a young woman in love before, I knew that the more I critiqued him, the more she was going to run to his defense.  I knew better.  This was one she was going to have to learn on her own.  She did.  That's when she and granddaughter moved in with me.

It's been challenging at times to have three generations living under one roof.   Unlike Asian and Hispanic cultures, multi-generations are not typical in American households.  I wanted to think we were on the cutting edge of a new trend as the economy continued to suffer and adult children were finding themselves needing to stay or come back home at the same time as some of us Boomers found our incomes significantly reduced as well.  We weren't that evolved yet.   It was actually pretty difficult.  We loved each other dearly, that I don't deny.  But my daughter and I haven't really had a chance to break out of the parent-child relationship and move into the woman-to-woman relationship we needed to peacefully co-exist in the same house. 

Instead of being sad about them moving out, I choose to see this as a time of growth for all of us.  My daughter and I can transition our relationship to the next phase.  I can finally be a "regular" Gamma instead of co-parenting.  Last but not least, I can sleep late on Saturday without the little one running into my room screaming "it's wake up time, Gamma"!

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