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.