Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Basement Dwellers and Other Alien Life Forms

Let's face it. Many of us have had them, or are familiar with someone who does. I know at least three people besides myself with this recurring affliction. I'm sensing it as a generational problem.

When I was young, I couldn't wait to leave home. I was seventeen when I selected a university which was far enough away that I wouldn't be tempted to travel back too often. It was lovely to see my parents if they came for a Saturday visit. It was nice to go home for special occasions.  As I recall, I only moved back briefly during the summer after I graduated. I awaited a call for the job I knew I'd get. Then, I was off to another city.

Nowadays, things are different, very different. It was over ten...perhaps even fifteen years ago when I sent my young'uns off to Hamilton. One went to McMaster, the other to some college whose name escapes me because I'm old and it seems like at least a decade ago. Oh wait. It was.

I was all set, looking toward the future, my future. I would be a single, carefree adult at last. My exhausting single mom job was mostly done.

I imagined all sorts of scenarios. They included my eventual retirement, seeing the world, possibly trying a new career or going back to school, and most importantly, quiet times. All I would do was read, write, paint, sing, travel, and perhaps work from time to time. I would live in a small, minimal maintenance loft someplace and wear loose, floor length, floral dresses and whatever other bizarre clothing appealed to me. There would be huge open work areas, wooden floors, tables, easels, and big bright windows spewing lots of much needed light. Music would play softly, as I sang, had uninterrupted bubble baths, or created. It would be my personal Shangri La.

My children would be off on their own, successful, and invite me to their lovely homes for special occasions. In fact, a psychic had even once predicted my ideal scenario, complete with living in another country...a hot one I presume, although he didn't specify. At no time did my vision include limits...day to day drudgery and aggravation, with bodies and pets underfoot. Nor did I anticipate the return of one or both of my now adult offspring which seems to have become a cyclical event.

During this past year, we have helped my son move into his father's house after the homeowner where he lived decided that the profit from the sale of his house far outweighed the rental income. Recently, he has decided to return to school...yet again. For the past two years, my daughter had been a squatter in our basement. It began as only a few months of studies, which then escalated. She recently moved on. After several 5 hour tests, one eight hour marathon exam, a vacation to Mexico, acquisition of assorted documentation, dog vaccinations, insurance, lines of credit, and more, the packing and moving happened. We loaded up two cars, and headed south to Atlanta. ***

As I drove back alone, I savoured the peace, the leisurely pace, the relaxation which eased the tightness in my shoulders, the time to think. I listened to audiobooks as I drank in the scenery and let my mind wander. I visited a few sites which interested me. ***

It's not that we don't love our children, and of course we miss and worry about them, but really? What has caused this "Failure to Launch" generation? Why are some doing in their thirties what we did in our teens and twenties?  Why is it that not every family has this issue? There are multitudinous successful and established young people, athletes, entrepreneurs, professionals, blue collar workers, and so on.  There are also far too many more that haven't managed to reach this stage.
Although it's cute, I am not certain I agree with the movie clip. On the contrary. I feel that young people nowadays have much more self esteem than many of us did. Yes, we are having tough economic times and good jobs are difficult to find. This has always been the case in one form or another. I think it's more complex than that. So what is it? I have my theories, although I don't want to expound or generalize at this time.

Having said all that, there are the later years. One of our neighbours just announced that her son is separating, selling his house, and hopefully will not be moving in since her grown daughter is already living in the house with them. A thought that never occurred to me during my earlier status as a single parent was to take my kids and head for mom and dad's. It just was not an option.

So there it is. Hubby and I are yet again, empty nesters.

As for me, although life has steered me in a slightly different direction, I still want to read, write, paint, sing, travel. And now, over a decade later, I'll just add, watch Netflix.


*** More on this later

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