1sunfight’s Weblog

January 2, 2009

Flying the Nest

Filed under: Daily Observations,Uncategorized — Julie P @ 4:56 pm
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Leaving the nest, your parent’s home, is a large milestone in a person’s life, and not just for the person doing, but for the parents as well. I was reminded of this the other day when my brother e-mailed me about his 22 year old son is leaving home to start out on his own.

“I think Tom wants to do young adult stuff that he can’t here without Marge and/or I seeing.  Drinking, having girls over and otherwise behaving irresponsibly and slovenly.

I don’t think he knows all the things we do to run a household.  I know for sure he doesn’t balance his checkbook.  He says when it gets low, he puts more in.  Good luck with that.  Then there’s the simple things like washing clothes, cooking food, cleaning dishes and so on.  He complains vigorously about noise – putting dishes away, cooking, even me eating.  For him, there must be total silence.  Unless he’s doing something.  Noise from *that* is o.k.

I think him living on his own will open his eyes.  He’s going to live with 3 other guys.  If he thinks my noises are bothersome, wait until he hears them.  They pal around after they’ve gotten ready for the day in their own places.  He doesn’t know what kind of strange habits they have. Ones that he’ll have to get used to, or get in fights over.  And wait until someone takes some his beer/soda/food.  He’ll also have to be organized about paying his bills.  Something that we keep after him for now.

He appears to think living on his own is about fun.  He only sees that part of it now, and isn’t really considering the other things that go with life on your own.

Well, he’s the all knowing 22 year old.  What we do or say is of no consequence, WE don’t know a thing!”

When I opened this e-mail, part of an ongoing conversation, I was struck by how much he sounded exactly like my parents did when I decided to move out the first time. (Yes, I moved out once when I was 20 and then back in 3 months later. I moved out again at the age of 23 to Atlanta never to move back in with my parents, or to live in Milwaukee again.) In a follow up e-mail my brother expressed concern about his job and the state of the economy. He sounded exactly like my parents did when I moved to Atlanta nearly 23 years ago. In 1986 the economy was not doing well, and I would have to find a job, much less all of the other concerns my brother expressed in his e-mail. My parents, family, the family doctor, and the man on the moon were predicting that I would move back to Milwaukee and my parent’s house within six to nine months. They were wrong.

Now it is my brother’s turn and he sounds exactly like them. I understand his concern about his son moving out on his own. It is his son, his child, no further explanation is needed. There was a part of me that wanted to tell him to just let him move out, to let his son get on with his own life, but I knew it would fall on deaf ears. As it was, I replied back telling himhe sounded like our parents, then I chided him by asking, “Who are you, and what have you done with my brother?” He found very little humor in my replies. So, here are my sage words of advice to those choosing to move out of their parent’s home for the first time, and to my brother.

Tom, moving out of the house for the first time, if not the only time, is a huge step into adulthood, probably more than you realize, but no amount of lecturing you will prepare you, or give you experience and wisdom, both of which I gained because I moved out on my own. You will gain life experience that only comes with living on your own, because you now have accepted all of the responsibility that goes with being a full grown adult, not a half man half child that you currently are. Do not go running back to mom and dad over every little thing, you now have to prove to them that you can do this, and being dependent on them defeats the purpose. You will not gain their respect if you do that, you will lose it. This also applies to your self-respect.

Living with other people is difficult, as I have found; it is why I choose to live alone, unless I were to marry. I found people have habits, beliefs, and ways of doing things that conflict with mine. I had friends who moved in with, but did not remain that way after living with them for a while. I can be stubborn too.

You will be able to do just as you please, but with every action comes a consequence that you must now shoulder all of the burden of. There will be no getting out of it. Period. There will be life’s mundane trivialities that you will have to face daily, but there will also be the big ones, the very big ones, like those that your parent’s faced, and that I have faced on my own, away from my family. Speaking for myself, there was the major car wreck that nearly took my life, the criminal lawsuit I took out against someone and had sent to prison, the end of an eight year relationship, the end of a professional career and business because I was too injured to continue doing. I still had to support myself, retrain myself, and switch careers in mid-stream during a seriously huge recession. I did all of that without the aid of my parents, or family. Guess what? You just signed up for that.

Living on your own is fun. I can do as I please, within reason. I have had and made friends with people I probably would never had met living at home. All of them added value to my life and I am glad to have had them in my life. I have traveled the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. It was amazing. I plan on continuing doing that too. I put myself through college. Everything I have I got on my own, which is a source of great pride, accomplishment, and gives me my self-worth and self-respect. It has been a great life. Tom, you will have that too. Good luck.

To my brother, John, I met your son, you did a great job raising him. It shows. You will have to trust that you instilled in him all of the values you find important, that you raised a person who will add value to society, and that can take of himself. It is time for you to say good bye, and to start enjoying an adult relationship with the son you brought into the world. Hold your breath and let him go, see him spread his wings.

And to the both of you: Happy New Year, this really is the beginning of something new.

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