The empty nest: Myth and reality


Michael Carson Photo

Michael Carson Photo

September is a month full of grieving parents.

I know, I’ve been one.  As much as we love to see our offspring head for the hallowed halls of universities and colleges, some of us grieve their absence.

The summer before my eldest left for McGill, I was as excited as she was for the adventure that was hers to unfold. On a warm September Sunday, the entire family drove to Montreal for lunch and to settle her in residence. Upon our return home, I sat down in her unusually clean, but now empty purple room and cried for two hours.

It only hit me then—she would never again return home as a child. Read More

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Courage under fire: Living with an intellectual disability

Parenting adult children can go beyond your own. Your children’s spouses, their friends, your nieces and nephews and young adults you meet at work or in social situations are all sources of delight and inspiration.

Take my 33-year-old niece Melanie. I recently spent a weekend with her and came to realize how wonderful she really is. She has special needs—she has an intellectual disability—but that’s not what makes her special. Apart from the fact that she sits on the board of People First, a national organization for people with intellectual disabilities, she understands and accepts herself better than most people I know.

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The bank of mom and dad: Helping kids financially

My twenty something son, who has a B.A. in anthropology, lives on next to no money. He works shifts at Starbucks and he often doesn’t get 40 hours a week.

But I am in awe of how of how happy he is and how well he lives on so little.  He lives in a $500 rent to income bachelor apartment in downtown Ottawa; he bikes everywhere in the summer and uses public transportation in the winter; he is a vegetarian and cooks with dried lentils and beans and he manages to go to the occasional concert and meet his friends for beer.

We don’t give him money because, not because we can’t afford to, but because we we think it is best for him to fend for himself.                                                                                                                                      
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Trying your best: A report card to remember

When my son was a mere puppy in elementary school he brought home a report card with some A’s, lots of B’s and the occasional C. I looked at it and told him it was fine and exclaimed over some of the A’s. After a few minutes discussion, we put it aside, never to be discussed again.

Or so I thought.

A few days later, he mentioned his report card. “Mom, how do you feel about the B’s and C’s I got?” he asked.

Obviously this had been bothering him.

“They’re fine with me,” I said. “What’s really important is that you try your best. If you get a B, and you tried hard, I’m happy with that. If you get a C and that is the best you can do, that’s more than good enough. What’s important, is not the mark, but that you try your hardest.”

There was a silence. “Do you really mean that?” he asked.

“Yes, I do.”

There was another pause and then:

“That’s what I call a Mother!”

I haven’t forgotten that.  He loved me for accepting him.

Lesson learned … for life.

Do you have a report card to remember?  Please don’t hesitate to comment in the Reply Box by clicking on “Read More”.

My son gave me permission to post this article.  

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