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The New Eternal Family Plan

This morning as the buildings of Burbank got smaller and smaller, and turned from distinguishable landmarks to little specks on the larger landscape, I had an epiphany. This whole muddle of idiocy that we’ve been brainwashed to believe is “good” and “healthy” and “normal” is really a bunch of hogwash.

I hereby soundly reject the idea that parents should bear children and raise them, pouring in every ounce of their souls only to have them grow up and move on as autonomous adults, leaving their parents behind.

As soon as I stepped foot in my home upon return from leaving my first baby alone in California for the entire summer, I announced to my remaining children that it was the first and the last time I would do so. Never again will I permit my children to move completely away. It is just wrong.

Today I begin the arduous task of reprogramming my children to understand the truth. I’ll add on extra space for their spouses and children. And buy lots of cookies and chocolate. That should do it.

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Michelle D May 16, 2008, 9:42 pm

    Hugs to you, Alison. Cheers for being able to actually get on the plane to come home and let her stay behind! That is a tough thing to do.

    My oldest chose to attend college in SC, a good 500 miles away. Three things have helped me with this: his other choice was BYU which is 1650 miles away – 3 times as far; I kept reminding myself that this was good practice for his mission; and I kept telling myself I had taught and trained him for this as I really didn’t want to have a 30-something-year-old dependent child still living at home unless circumstances dictated such a continuation of our status as Hotel D. It is a tough transition. I find it difficult to let my baby become his own adult and be on his own – my first baby who REFUSED to go to sleep without nursing. (I’m not joking; it was hard. The attempt for comic relief through the tears of frustration of trying to teach my 15-mo-old to sleep on his own was that I’d be nursing him to sleep when he was 15! Luckily, we figured it out long before then…)

    After years of being Mom, it is hard to let them go. Maybe this is the real reason behind the family farm concept from bygone eras. Give them each a parcel of land, help them build cabins for their own families, and work the farm together. Voila! The children stay in close proximity.

    … Yeah, this from the child who moved away and lives well over a thousand miles away from most of both sides of our families… :confused: :tongue:

    Good luck with your own transition, Alison!

  • davidson May 17, 2008, 1:26 am

    I send bandaids for your poor heart. The giant economy-size box. It doesn’t get any easier. We can joke around all we want to; in a church where we talk and talk about families BEING TOGETHER FOREVER, it’s dang hard to put “together” on hold. Hugs to you.

  • facethemusic May 17, 2008, 7:21 am

    You got me bawling, Alison!
    Wow- it’s one of those things that you KNOW is coming. And you know it’s the right thing. It’s GOOD for them. It’s the way our Father planned it. But there’s always “on the other hand…”
    I’ll tell you what though– I work with a woman who I REALLY like. She’s a good person and a good parent. Very involved with her children, does what’s best for them, makes good sound decisions regarding their upbringing, etc. They’re very well behaved, smart, respectful, responsible and polite children. But I’ve been sort of baffled by the dichotomy between her actual parenting and her FEELINGS about parenting.
    She absolutely can’t WAIT for them to grow up and be out of the house. (She already has 2 gone, with 2 left) She was talking about how she’s dreading the summer break, the kids being home all day. She WANTS them gone all day– she LIKES school keeping them busy and out of her way. On Friday before Mother’s Day, she was saying how she was hoping that for Mother’s Day, her husband would take the kids out all day, so she could just be alone. “No cake, no flowers, no presents, just leave me alone and let me pretend I’m NOT a mother for just one day.”
    I honestly felt sorry for her when I heard her say that. I LOVE being a mother, it makes me happy, and truly is a JOY for me. I’m THRILLED that school is almost done!! I can’t WAIT to be able to just be home all day with my kids and go to the park, to the zoo, work in the garden, go swimming, stay up really late watching movies, hang out in the yard, etc.
    I KNOW that they’ll grow up and be gone one day. And I AM exicted at the thought of them being autonomous, getting married having children and becoming even more than they already are. Ill be happy for THEM, that THEY’LL be able to find happiness on their own.
    But I also know that for ME, it will be miserable!!! And the only thing that will bring me out that is knowing that THEY’RE happy. But I can honestly say that in NO WAY am I anxious for my kids to grow up and move out on their own. I LOVE having them HERE!
    Hugs to you Alison!! I’m pre-feeling your pain!

  • Tinkerbell May 17, 2008, 7:46 am

    Does your house really need additions to accommodate in-laws? 🙂

  • Ray May 17, 2008, 10:07 am

    Alison, our son is a junior in high school and interested in special effects as a career. He is looking at Savannah College of Art and Design.

    Any advice on schools – or anything in general for him?

  • Alison Moore Smith May 17, 2008, 2:32 pm

    Oh, I’m totally clueless about it all. Jessica’s emphasis is editing–which I suspect is very different from special efffects? She is an award winning editor (many times) and–for her job–works as the editor of BYUs True Blue sports program. (You can see it on KBYU and BYUTV.)

    BYU has been a great place for her so far. Disney recruits throughout the California school system AND at BYU because they are known for their good work. Other than that, I’m out in the cold. Sorry.

  • nanacarol May 17, 2008, 6:42 pm

    The empty nester thing is very hard to handle. It is probably one of my worst trails ever. I just hated them being gone and the house and phone empty and quiet. Did not do well at all. Needless to say the depression got worse again and I now know to stay on medication for good. However, I have learned to enjoy the quiet, the wonderful time I am having with my husband and rediscovering him again. I have discovered the love of quilting and crocheting like never before. I love to sew for my grandchildren. However, right now my two little granddaughters that I watch 9 hours every day keep me hopping so the sewing machine stays quiet. I long for the days of being left alone. But I would be devasted if they were to leave town. I just want an equal balance. I have more thoughts but I think it best I post on crossing bridges because it applies there!
    You have my prayers Allison that you will be accepting and not to worry too much. The Lord will take care of them! And even if they make wrong choices they to must learn the hard way about life just the way our parents let us!!! Very hard lesson to learn. I still want to put my two cents in where I shouldn’t. Good luck and may you have many happy phones chats with her! You just might find you will grow even closer thru that medium. I know that my daugher and I have a much better relationship when we are long distance!!

  • marathonermom May 17, 2008, 8:34 pm

    Cyber hugs to you, Alison. My oldest is only 11, so I’m a long way away from having my little chicks leave the nest. But I’m not looking forward to it.

  • Naismith May 18, 2008, 6:48 am

    I guess I fall halfway between moms who hate to see them leave and those who can’t wait.

    Of course I miss them, and mourn the various stages that have passed out of my life forever. But on the other hand, I sometimes get weary because it has gone on for so long. We had three children by the time we’d been married three years; 30 years later, we still have two teenagers at home, with at least three years left before youngest is in college.

    I’m not anxious to see them leave, but at the same time I do wish I could travel more with my husband, etc. I will feel ripped off if we finally get them all out, and our health or something interferes with a few years of together time. And of course I understand that life is not “fair,” but that is just how I feel.

    I am not so much in a hurry for them to fly away, but I am looking forward to that next season. I don’t think that is a bad thing; we should always be optimistic about the future and embrace each new challenge. I haven’t been employed full-time since 1976, but I hope to have 10 years of productivity after they leave, before retirement and mission. Having a life plan has helped me move forward and avoid becoming obsolete once my first career was over.

    I loved raising my children. I love my work as a researcher. I’m glad I was home with them when they were little, and with them each day after school. But I’m also glad that in a few years I will be able to focus more intently on my work, without having to race home for music lessons and cooking dinner.

  • Alison Moore Smith May 18, 2008, 9:53 am

    Thanks everyone for your kind and thoughtful input. Naismith, I agree so much with what you wrote. There are many things I look forward to as well, and hope we are healthy and wealthy and wise and ready to take on the world. I think I just thought I would be WAY OLDER when that finally happened. Or more ready. Or maybe just more tired of being a mom or something. 🙂 And you’re a better woman than I am. I still haven’t attempted to race home to cook ANYTHING. :bigsmile: More often I pretend to forget that people eat.

    You got me thinking. With my youngest being four, this is the first time in 20 years I haven’t had a really young child. He’s still wild and unpredictable and needs constant supervision, but he’s not trying to eat cleaning supplies or drown himself in the toilet, so my parental role is a tiny bit less stressful, which is an interesting phenomenon. I don’t mind that. It will be 15 more years before Caleb leaves on his mission. That will be 35 years of full-time mommying. Maybe I’ll be more ready for a new phase then???

  • Alison Moore Smith May 17, 2008, 9:17 am

    Hah! Tinkerbell. Maybe not. Maybe there really WAS a reason we built the house so big. But we are moving. Better push the walls out a bit.

    Thanks all for your kindness. Jessica just finished her junior year in college and I STILL go in her room and “tuck her in” every night when I tuck everyone else in. I go to all six rooms religiously. I hate having an empty room and an empty chair at the table and an empty seat in the car.

    I know this is an amazing opportunity. I know I know I know. Disney. Come on. Over 3,000 applicants and only 8 were finally selected. This is a huge deal for a film student. I know. I know. I know. I’m so proud of her and thrilled. But she’s my baby.

    BTW, she’s renting a room from a couple who live in Glendale–about ten minutes from the studios. Another LDS girl–who is interning at a hospital–is renting the other room.

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