It’s the fall, a time when many families face the prospect of empty nests as their young adults depart for college jobs. Ah, the empty nest…a syndrome that simultaneously fills us with dread and delight. The prospect of our children leaving home potentially evokes a multitude of anxieties. (Often this anticipatory anxiety is for naught when our children ricochet back to their rooms when life out of the nest, with it’s pesky responsibilities, thwarts their efforts at independence). And it seems that is happening a lot lately given the current economic conditions.
An article in the New York Times The US Census Bureau reported a 1.2 million increase in adult children moving back into the nest. Shared households now account for almost 20% of all American households. The Baby Boomer generation (of which I am a part) is truly the “tweener” generation. We are sandwiched between parenting our children and tending to aging parents. (Thirty-one percent of Boomers are helping support older and younger family members).
I almost fell off my chair laughing when I read a piece from The Crowded Nest Syndrome: Surviving the Return of Adult Children, which takes a critical view of the trend. Kathleen Shaputis is comically critical of what she has labeled, “CNS”, otherwise known as Crowded Nest Syndrome. Shaputis says, “Forget Atkins and Weight Watchers”, the Crowded Nest Syndrome Diet will enable one to lose their appetite in no time. The author opines, “You know you’re living in a crowded nest when…
-Your other car is a U-Haul
–You’re on a first name basis with employees at CostCo
–You go to your car on Monday morning and the gas tank is empty.
–Every time you return from a fast food restaurant, you bring back a job application.
Tough economic times make demands on our time and pocket books. Humor in the face of these transitions can serve as an an excellent coping strategy.
This is post five of Be Brave. Lose the Beige’s 12 days of New Year’s Resolutions. This resolution is directed at Lady Boomers and their empty nests.
Ah, the empty nest, a syndrome that simultaneously fills us with dread and delight. The prospect of our children leaving home potentially evokes a multitude of anxieties. (Often this anticipatory anxiety is for naught when our children ricochet back to their rooms when life out of the nest, with it’s pesky responsibilities, thwarts their efforts at independence).
“What’s in Your Empty Nest?” is a question we should ask ourselves as we rebuild our nests and make room for our own dreams. Of course there will still be some “room” (although perhaps a shared one alongside your guitar, art supplies and exercise equipment) for the kids to come home on the weekends. I am here to testify, it is possible to create a fun, interesting life after the nest empties, fills back up, and empties out again. So, Lady Boomers, what’s in or out of your empty nest? Here are a few possibilities:
(1) yappy foo foo dog; (2) golf bag complete with driver (with enormous club head), putter, irons, ball retriever, pink balls, great outfit, lessons with cute golf pro; (3) Eiffel Tower or other fantastic destinations; (4) extra branches in case baby birds ricochet back to their rooms, (5) tickets to a Broadway show (ON Broadway); (6) cap, gown and one more diploma to add to your CV; (7) membership to local YMCA; (8) lots of gift cards to restaurants.
Have a blast!
I’m thrilled and delighted my article entitled, “Lookout Baby, I’m in a Dangerous Mood” was just published in the online magazine, Boomer Café. Check it out-http://tinyurl.com/2aurhap
I have written several articles for Boomer Café, the online baby boomer magazine about the joy of parenting adult children. This post finds me lamenting, even complaining a bit about this role.
As a mother I am, of course, quick to point out, I’m crazy about my kids (Tracy 30, David 27) and am exceedingly proud of them. They are virtually launched and almost off the family dole. My daughter is a high school English teacher with benefits, a pension plan and a condo she is paying for. My son has attended some of the best universities in the country and is in the process of completing his Ph.D. program in Counseling psychology. Thus, I am abundantly endowed in the bragging rights department.
But…..do they call? Not enough! Do they visit? Not frequently enough! Are they ever going to move back to their home town? Of course not! If they have children, will I be able to dash over and see my grandchildren? Hell no! Am I bitter about this state of affairs? Of course not….well, maybe a bit. My husband (their step father), their Dad and I all encouraged them to spread their wings and fly the nest. Now, I don’t completely regret encouraging them to travel and experience new places and cultures. But I did think maybe they would want to share these experiences with their parents.
We currently have a texting relationship and, most of the time, I’m grateful for these scraps of affection bestowed upon me. Today, however, was just one of those days, I resented the distance and lack of attention. As one of my husband’s favorite Blues song title says, “I’m in a dangerous mood”.I start thinking of the many thoughtful acts we bestow upon them- checks and gift cards in the mail; care packages filled with treats; flowers for special occasions and personal victories; car insurance payments; air plane tickets; Netflix subscriptions; and cell phone service. (That one makes me the maddest. I pay for them to have a cell phone and they don’t use it to call me? What is wrong with this picture?)
I think Boomers are in a weird “tween” position. As 50s and 60s kids, we sought our parent’s approval and felt a need to “please” them. (Episodes of AMC’s Mad Men confirm this supposition). Now, as parents, we find ourselves in the position of trying to “please” our kids. We want their approval and to be liked by them”. Why are those of us in this “Tweener” generation such pleasers? If anyone has a clue, please share it with us below.