I do not broach the subject of parenting often, if at all, on this website. My needs, and those of my family, for privacy, prevent much public disclosure of that part of my life. The more powerful reason, however, for keeping my parental world to myself has more to do with the fact that I am typically an outlier even among outliers. As a parent, I have been, and continue to be extremely Out-of-the-Norm from my peers. That age group defined parenting as out-spending everyone else in “providing” for the Progeny.
During the spring of 2010, Dear Son and I shared some together-time in the Family Room of the Peach House, which means, we were together in the same room at the same time. I was sitting on the couch, reading a book, while he was watching baseball on TV. I decided the moment had come for me to speak to him about Leaving the Nest. His college graduation was imminent, within weeks. Dear Adult Son had not spoken to me at all about this momentous occasion in his life, which informed me, Mom, that he was very intentionally avoiding the subject.
Under such circumstances, I do not beat around the bush. I go straight for the jugular, of the topic, that is.
“Son, this isn’t Southfork here. I know we have an upper parcel that’s buildable. But you need to find your own place to live. Don’t do it until you are financially ready. Because if you need to move back into The Home, it will be humiliating for you, and humiliating for me.”
That advice was very well-heeded by Dear Son, and even more well-heeded by younger Dear Daughter. The younger child always benefits from hearing Mom-Advice to older sibling. I did not realize, at that time, that my words of wisdom, my entire parenting philosophy — flew in the face of Millennial Parenting.
The Widely Approved Millennial Parenting Practice for the un-adult leaving the nest was to make sure that he, or she, would never deal with even the possibility of having to return to the nest — by buying a separate nest — house — for Bambino. In that way, the cord is never cut. It is agonizingly compressed, and constricted, repeatedly, through money, that manipulative legal tender that is not tender on any sense of autonomy.
Devious but Balding Dad, treating Little-Swiss-Miss like his girlfriend in the Condo in the Rockies was, to me, much more appalling to witness than Manic-Depressive Breadwinner Mom, captivated by Hunk-Son in his Bachelor-Pad at the Coast. The Nazi Mother in Notorious looked almost benevolent by comparison!
The Tribal Matriarch who once used the Family Fortune to dominate the lives of the next generation expanded her grasp during the past few decades. The Money Tree branched out into newer dead-end avenues of Don’t-Leave-Home. By the 2000s, Nature-Gone-Berserk evolved into equal-opportunity smothering of the future gene pool.
I therefore was very alone, and on my own, during the initial phase of my post-Nest life. Actually, I was having the time of my life. I was finally getting to do all of the things I’d shelved or “temporarily” put away, or postponed in order to rear and homeschool my children. I encountered hordes of women who were going through crises of all kinds because the emptiness of their personal lives could no longer be disguised by the proximity of their offspring, and by their obsession with their offspring.
My quest for independence as a person, more than as a woman, had begun young, probably during childhood. I did not view marriage and child-bearing, along with child-rearing, as impediments to that “independence.” In fact, those duties were steps along the way to an independent life.
That attitude, or way of being, was, and is, in direct contradiction to the concept of womanhood, and to the type of parenting, that mark the modern era, a timeframe that I define as post-1970s. Because the 1970s were dedicated by the enfants terribles of that generation to destroying, disrupting and undermining the fabric of American society. Parenting became an option, especially after having given birth to a child, although being a child — for the child — was never was an option after exiting the birth canal.
I so completely missed the mark of what a Modern Mother was supposed to look like, or be, or behave as — that I very frequently was thought of as The Babysitter of my own children. In our first house, Dear Husband would drive home from work. Park the vehicle. Come into the house. Give Wifey a smooch, and Wifey would then leave the house to drive off to the gym, or to the Public Library.
The neighbors believed that I was the Babysitter. Dear Husband was a Widower.
Who knows what tales of tempestuous hidden passion occurred between us, behind that Tract Home Door, according to The Neighbors? My real life, by comparison, surely paled.
When the Neighbors learned, years later, upon our putting up the House for Sale, that Debra is THE WIFE — and THE MOTHER! — (so He didn’t marry the Babysitter): I am sure they were tremendously disappointed.
More recently, I have been presumed as an Heiress of some sort by the General Contractor for the construction of our Dream House. I kept my distance from him because, well, business is business, and building a house for me is business. I did inform him that I am not a California Native, but from . . . The East Coast. The look in his eyes said it all:
Not to be trusted.
The curmudgeon suspects that Dear Husband married The Pot of Money because Dear Husband was a lowly-paid Government Employee. And who else, but a woman with Inherited Wealth, would design — and live — in such a big house without children to move into it.
The moniker PROUD MOTHER is currently so ubiquitous on Internet Identity Tags that one news media wise-guy used it as His Tag. I laugh every time I think about it. During my time In The Home, a mother dared not be proud; or dare to admit she was a mother, proud or otherwise, and In The Home. Women have come a long way to return to their biological destiny.
I didn’t ever have an Empty Nest after my children left the nest, because the Home was getting too small for me long before the small fry were big enough to swim upstream. I’d say they took the lead from me as to how go out into the world.
With confidence amidst the nervous stomach, and daggers in your eyes when you encounter the Ignoramus who knows it all, and with the will-to-win that does not stop just because you are surrounded by losers.
On parenting, my children learned a lot from me. I learned just as much from them. That fairly even-exchange rate is the kind of emotional currency that is the coin of my realm. My realm is my castle. And I’m the queen of it.