childhood, family

No Babies Here

I took a week off from the blog. It wasn’t something I’d planned to do, it just happened. Work has been work, but family has been…

It’s an interesting season of life. You’d think, with four teenagers, one of them completely independent and out of the house, I’d have more time, not less. Ha. Hahahahaaha! Yeah, no. We’d somewhat optimistically estimated that we’d have the Ginja Ninja and the Junior Mad Scientist driving by the end of the year. That’s not going to happen. However, they do both have jobs now (yay!) and are both in college classes full time (double yay!). Which means that when you throw in the Little Man’s night of extracurricular activity, the youngest kid is the least of my concerns. And the odd schedules make my life… interesting.

They’re not my babies any more. I hear stories of mothers who can’t bear to let their children go. They move nearer to colleges, visit their kids’ apartments unannounced to cook and clean. They get between young husbands and wives and insist on breathing down their child’s neck like he was sitting there doing homework instead of climbing the corporate ladder. I’ve read of mothers wanting to come to job interviews with gown adults… It boggles the mind. The Ginja Ninja is 18 now, and every now and then we turn around and say ‘you still here?’ because in my generation (eh, ah, Get off my Lawn! creak, groan, hobble) the goal was to be on your own as soon as you could manage to fly the nest. It seems like along with the demand for college degrees in everydamnjob the age of ‘achieving adulthood’ was jacked up, too. I’ve read science fiction stories where the age of majority had been raised to 40, and that doesn’t seem so far-fetched any longer. Out culture promotes a prolonged adolescence. Perpetual adolescence, in some people. We had been discussing kids getting their driver’s licenses, and how it seemed a lot of our friend’s children were just not getting them, or waiting until they were much older. Was it anecdotal? I asked the First Reader. When we got home, he sat down at his computer and sent me an article he’d found in a quick search – it’s not. While he’d been champing at the bit to get his license at 16, now we see that in the last 30 years, half the 16 year olds are getting their license compared to the 1980s. It’s not clear why, although I can think of a couple of reasons. One is that we’re less likely to let our kids do grown-up things at such an early age. My 16 yo is  a mere sophomore in high school (freshman in college, because she is) and I’m not sure I’d want to let her loose with a swarm of other kids her age on the road. Or maybe I would, because the JMS is a very aware and cautious soul.

But that’s only one of many things the ‘Millennials’ are doing differently than past generations. I’m going to pause here and note something: I’m not going to take swipes at Millennials. It’s not just that I’m biased for having three (not sure the Lil’ Man falls into that generation), it’s that I’ve spent some time with my kids’ friends, Civil Air Patrol cadets (admittedly, the cream of the crop in any generation), and classmates/coworkers. In any generation there are excellent individuals who know how to work and aren’t afraid to fight for their futures. The difference isn’t the kids. It’s the culture. We really do infantilize…well, women in particular. That makes me worry about my girls.

I have a lot of time to think, driving, or sitting and waiting on kids. Looking into the foggy future, I know that they will, eventually, leave home. And I know that will both be painful, and joyful. I want them to soar. I’ve spent most of my adult life wrapped up in ‘mom’ role but I’ve got to admit, I’m looking forward to the next phase in life. The ‘Cedar’ bit, where I have some spare time and a bit more spare cash ’cause I’m not spending it all on groceries. Heck with being a helicopter mom. I’m lifting off from the LZ and scooting outta there, with no plans to hover any longer than strictly necessary. Just… have to wait until they all have enough feathers to fly. So that’s where we are: in the fledgling phase. Where mother bird and father bird are running themselves ragged stuffing all the bugs they can lay beak on into babies as big as they are!

Just-hatched Phoebe chicks. Header image is the same brood about two weeks later – just prior to flight.

8 thoughts on “No Babies Here

  1. I sympathize. For a while there when your baby sister was really having a hard time (she’s doing better now, though still having bad days frequently enough to keep me from getting complacent), and I was considering that it might actually be necessary to find a residential placement for her, it occurred to me that if I didn’t have her to look after, there was a whole world of other things I could be doing that suddenly opened up. And yeah, I’d love to have the ability to do some of those things, but not at the expense of putting her into a ‘home’ if it isn’t really necessary. I guess I’ve never really had the empty nest, much as I missed you and Maranatha when you got out on your own. Might be kind of nice, but I have to count the cost….

  2. Of course the average age for getting a license has gone up– even in states where it’s possible to get a learner’s permit before you’re 16, more than half of states you can’t have a full license until you’re over 16.

    Why jump through a bunch of hoops for the privilege of not being allowed to drive with your friends anywhere, not being allowed to drive after dark, not being allowed to drive on weekends, getting pulled over driving your siblings to school…..

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