Monday, September 17, 2007

Season of Confusion

It's still officially summer for another week or so. A couple of days ago it was a typical late summer day--muggy and warm. Yesterday it was crisp and cool and decidedly fall-ish. The leaves on the trees don't know what they should be doing. Most are still the dark green of summer, but certain branches on the tree are all yellow are red and look as if they have been grafted in from a tree that is several weeks ahead in the season. They just seem confused.

Sometimes I'm confused about my season of life as well. My daughter is an older elementary student. At nine, she's in a completely different stage of life than she was just a couple of years ago, so as her mom I'm in the season of shuttling to soccer, watching her grow up, and trying to guide her choices as I get the opportunity. However, I still have my little guy at home, so I'm still in the season of full-time care that revolves mostly around protecting him physically at this point.

Preschool has given me a small hint of the freedom that I will enjoy when both of my children are in school full-time, and reading Beyond the Mommy Years has given me a true glimpse of the complete freedom that can come as a reward to the hard job of raising children. As a result of talking to many empty-nesters, primarily women in their late 40's and early 50's, Dr. Carin Rubenstein determined that the empty next "woe is me" syndrome does not exist. Most women are pleased to enter into this stage of life. And why shouldn't we be?

However, one thing adds to this motherhood season of confusion: when the children leave home, they don't usually stay gone. In fact, half of them return home as adults, either for a short time of readjustment after a big life change such as divorce or the loss of employment, or as a long-term choice after college. Young men are particularly susceptible to this, since they are marrying later, so why not live cheaply at home and spend your income on things like fancy cars and big screen TVs?

I love reading these kinds of observations on our culture (this is the kind of thing that I mentioned would interest many in my full review over at 5 Minutes for Mom today). In fact, there's a whole new term that is used for these types of young adults: ILYA, or incompletely launched young adults. The entire span of ages 18 to 25 is now referred to as emerging adulthood. I definitely understand that when a child leaves home but is still in the process of college or career training, that it is expected that they will still require financial support as well as continued parental guidance. However, it is unique to this century that this goes on beyond 21 or 22, with many young adults still requiring financial help into their mid-twenties. There are many reasons for this, and that was one reason I found the book helpful even with my kids at their age. I now feel more aware of the world and culture to which they are going to emerge and determined to give them the skills that they need to live independently when the time comes.

No pressure or anything.


Stephanie said...

If my kids are grown and still living at home, they will NOT be driving better/newer cars than more or have a bigger tv than mine. = ) O! And I WILL be charging rent!! = ) LOL!

Sounds like an interesting book. I can't help thinking that the parents are the ones creating these situations.

Beck said...

My 22 year old brother is still mooching off my parents and not working at all. Yep, he's a worry.

Kathie said...

I enjoyed your blog. As a mother of 5 grown children, almost..... The baby just turned 19...... situations like this are much too often caused by the parents and their lack of action or rules.
Kathie in Costa Rica

Katrina said...

Hmm... I never heard of the term ILYA, but I like it. And I see it happening all around me. It certainly is one of our more important (and probably more difficult) jobs to make sure that our kids are prepared and willing to live independently when they become adults. Our society and culture don't necessarily help or support that cause, so it'll probably be an uphill climb.

angeleyes Blue said...

Jennifer--Enoy this time as it goes way too fast. This year My two are both in high school. --Am I that old? My son is in Driver's Ed and the famiy is meeting my 14 year old daughter's boyfriend on Wed. Our son calls him Goliath--name is actually Tyler. He is 6'2" and a very nice young man at age 14.

I keep reminding myself that they are good kids and that daddy and I already laid down the foundation back when they were younger... way younger...way younger.

Apparently my son was approached several times by another friend to try POT! My son though curious has said NO.

Groundwork laid. At least he still confides in me or his sister. He talked to his sister about the drugs--She will use situations like this to tattle. YEAH! Kudos for him on saying No and Kudos for her on sharing with me on his dilemna.

I got to give myself a kudos also. At least they are both talking to me during their teenage years.

Have a great day everyone :)

Heather said...

Looks like we both felt seasonal yesterday!
I've been looking at this phenomenon for a bit now, the twixters, or ILYA. I can't help but wonder about some of the aspects that contribute to this:
enabling: if you don't have to grow up, why should you? why should you give up the big screen TV's and playstations to pay rent?
the perfect fit: so much weight is put on finding your perfect career. you can't get a job until you pinpoint the one thing you're meant to do. seems like this is a pretty recent phenomenon.
also, in figuring out who i am (something i'm struggling with now), i'm realizing that maybe it's okay to be a life-long process and while i'm figuring who i am, i'll continue living.

Cmommy said...

Good review! This book is on my fall reading list. :-)