My middle-aged friends no longer need to worry that their daughters will bring home some itinerant carnival workers who want to camp in the yard and plant marijuana in the flower beds or that their sons will grow old in the basement playing video games with their illiterate buddies. No, somehow we survived the great unknown between “You can’t tell me what to do!” and “Thanks, Mom, I love you!” After decades of raising children and preparing them for the realities of the world, most women are jubilant when their young adults are without a criminal record, gainfully employed, and off of the family nickel or teat. For us, the empty nest is a positive experience because our children are doing fine on their own.
“My son got a job and has a new apartment!” Cheers and toasts.
“My daughter is starting her own business and already has a few clients.” More cheers and clinking of glasses.
“My children pooled some of the money they earned and bought me a present!” Loud clapping and more drink orders.
“I’ve turned the empty bedroom into a wine bar and writing studio!” Total adulation and drinks for the entire bar!
Of course, we’d like to assume that the success of our children is due to our superior parenting skills, but we’re also wise enough to know that a tremendous amount of luck, blessings, and other nurturing adults were involved to help Junior and Sis become productive adults. And we’ve shared countless tears with good mothers struggling with their children’s drug addictions, chronic unemployment, or abusive partners. We’re also keenly aware that the dismal job market makes it difficult for our eager offspring to find good employment. That’s why it’s so exhilarating to celebrate when our young adult sons and daughters become self-sufficient.
The rites of passage continue to evolve, and I try to anticipate the next opportunity that tugs at my heart, or bewilders my brain, or makes me load my gun. Midlife brings those complex days when I rock a grandchild to sleep, exercise with my grown daughter, share a beer with my son-in-law, really listen as my son describes his tough job, take a sad friend to lunch, feel my daughter-in-law’s pregnant belly, send a steamy text to my sweetheart, write a sassy short story, and then go help my ailing mother at the assisted living facility. Really, I can’t imagine life any other way.
Today’s blog is fueled by a 2008 Blacksmith Merlot from Columbia Valley. This nice wine is another winner from Walla Walla, Washington, and it sells at the Garden Valley Market for only $13. Cheap but tasty!