A friend is in a state of high distress. Her 39-year-old daughter--the mother of 6-year-old twins--is talking about moving half way across the country in another year or two. The daughter's husband--a man who started his military career at a young age--will be retiring from the army with a pension. The young family is looking to the future. They want to live in a place where the cost of living is lower and where there is easy access to the great outdoors.
"They won't have all the free babysitting they get here," says my friend, who provides 99 percent of that babysitting. They also won't be leaving Sunday dinner at my friend's house laden with enough "leftovers" to last a week. And the daughter and husband won't have those get-away weekends when the Grammy and Gramps take the boys and entertain them for three days at their house.
When my friend retired this winter, she joined a health club--not necessarily the one she liked better but the one that came with an indoor pool where small children were allowed to be guests. She's already had the boys over for swims four or five times.
It is hard for her to fathom why her daughter would voluntarily move away from all this loving support. It threatens her peace of mind. She is very attached to the twins--after all, she's helped nurture them since they were born.
So what's a mother or father to do? We don't really have a say in what our children decide to do with their lives--beyond advice, if we're asked and occasionally, advice even if we're not asked.
But the bottom line is that we won't be around forever. Maybe that's part of what is so disturbing about the threat to move away: when our grown children make plans for the future, we are neither central to that future nor a major factor in it. Plans are made to carry on without us. Ultimately, isn't that how it should be?
Once again, it is matter of our "letting go." It comes in various forms at different stages of parenting. It never gets easier.