I’m a pretty hands on parent. I have always known what was going on in my daughter’s life. I’m OK with that, as it’s exactly how I wanted to parent. So inevitably, when I run into someone I haven’t seen since DO (drop off) they can’t help but ask:
“How are YOU??? How Are you handling her being away? Do you miss her? Are you bored without her.”
Some of those asking are my friends also became empty nesters this year. When they ask, it’s more like checking in: they have done the drop off, they face the same empty room every day. They are in the same boat and are eager to share their thoughts on all things empty nest.
Some that are asking are my friends who will become empties within the next few years: they know what kind of parent I’ve been, and are generally curious about how the experience is, and how they should be prepping for it.
And some of the people…..
Some of the people are the one’s that are kind of secretly hoping I’m failing at the parent sans child thing. Some of these people were present last night at a holiday dinner. And here’s my answer to the questions:
I’m fine. No, I’m actually never bored, there are lots of things I like to do. I’m handling it all fine. Of course I miss her, she’s my angel, but you know, I’m actually OK with her being away.
But they press on: But you WERE ALWAYS WITH HER. YOU MUST BE MISERALE WITHOUT HER.
And I repeat: actually, the house is now always neat. I do a third less laundry. I don’t need to buy as much food. I’m not on call 24/7.
BUT SHE WAS YOUR LIFE? YOU MUST BE DESPONDENT.
Yes- she’s my daughter and I love her, but I can love her with the distance. If I miss her I text her, or call her. That hasn’t stopped.
BUT YOU SURELY MUST BE SAD WITHOUT HER
At this point I shake my head and try to change the subject. Because there are just some people who want me to be miserable. They want to see my crumple into a little ball and sob every day because apparently my life is over because my daughter moved away.
Why are some people rooting for you to fail?
I chose my own way to parent, and I received a lot of grief about it from certain quarters. I feel like they were looking for ways to see that I sucked at parenting, that some of my “new fangled” ways would not work. I was told that my daughter would fail at school because I didn’t send her to Pre k at three years old. She didn’t. I was told that I was starving her because I fed her small portions of food. She didn’t. I was told that she would be left behind by being educated in NYC public schools. She didn’t. I was told she wouldn’t be a leader because I allowed her to be shy. That turned out to be false as well.
And they still want me to fail. But this time as an empty nester. If you pull back the veneer, they also want my daughter to fail at college. They keep pressing that surely she’ll be homesick the whole time she’s at college because I was too hands on. That she won’t adapt and it will be all my fault.
So I ask again, why do we actively want people to fail? Why do we have this incessant need to want to be right more than we want things to work for others. Why do people keep the words “I told you so” so readily available in their arsenal?
Can’t we choose to cheer one another on?