Saturday, October 15, 2011

So there comes a time...

So there comes a time when you realize they're really grown-ups, and they're really going to be leaving.

Scott is 23 and will graduate from Iowa State in the spring. His four-year plan was derailed with the addition of a second major -- and truly, that was fine with his dad and me. He's a good student, has loved the classes in his major areas, and has gotten as much out of college as I would have hoped. There are worse things than spending five years learning.

The other day, he was invited to apply for a job that likely will take him far from home if he decides to pursue it. Of the location choices he was given, he's leaning toward relocating to the San Francisco Bay area. And who can blame him? He spent an exchange semester in northern California, and when we went to visit him, I fell in love with it, too. It's in step with his ideologies and personality, and I have no doubt he can do good things there.

But ... I really wish he would express a burning desire to stay in Iowa. If not Iowa, I'd love for him to hang out in the Midwest. As I've mentioned on these pages, my family is not exactly nomadic. When my grandparents arrived from Italy, it was as if the tacit agreement was that we'd all just hang out here.

And that's worked well for us; as I noted while helping to take care of my dying father earlier this year, I was so grateful that we all lived in the same town during that difficult time and didn't have to manage the additional stress of complicated logistics.

But the world is different now. By and large, people aren't blooming where they're planted. Given all our technological options, that's not surprising. We can "travel" with the click of a mouse, and Skype -- talk via picture-phone-type software -- with people across the globe. Gone are the encyclopedias of my youth; in their place is Google. And as an Internet addict, I love it.

You have to admit, though, that chatting via Skype can't compare to being able to drive north on Highway 69 simply because you need to see your child and take him out for a stick-to-the ribs dinner because the last time you saw him, he was looking a little too thin.

The difference Scott wants to make in the world may not be one he can make in Iowa, and I understand that and am proud of him. When it comes Caroline's time to make a job decision, she may not decide to stay here, either. I'll need to get past the tiny but nagging worry that perhaps they're running from me (I can hear them now: "Mom, it's not always about you!") and accept that they're running toward something else.

"That's why we got you a dog," they'll say as they throw parts of their lives into their suitcases. And she's a great little dog, but as any parent in this situation knows, nothing can compare with the knowledge that your child -- your life -- is asleep in a bed not far from home.


  1. *sigh* I can completely relate to this, Lisa, and the day may very well come when I'm in the same boat. But looking back, I did the same thing to my parents -- moved away from Iowa to pursue my passions. For a variety of reasons, I eventually came back -- and with a greater appreciation of Iowa after living in the big city for awhile. So you never know how things may unfold for your kids.

    Boy, this parenting thing doesn't get any easier as they get older, does it? ;)

  2. Thanks, Janet. That's my hope: that they'll make their marks on the world, but when it comes time to settle down and have families -- if that's what they choose -- they'll come back.