Sunday, May 27, 2007

Gift for Kids: First They Want Toys, Then They Want Money, Then...

...they want sentimental stuff. I like this "phase" best, as far as gift-giving goes.

Elisabeth now has her own career and makes good money, so it's almost silly for her (unemployed) mommy to buy her things. Instead, I picked up on her latest decorating gig, which is finding meaningful photos, copying them in black and white, and framing and hanging them. So this is what we'll give her this evening when we take her to dinner. The photos are of Elisabeth as a baby and pre-schooler with Tom and me, and of "the girls" about ten and about four years ago.

We were gonna take her to dinner last night, but her friends "stole" her and took her wine-tasting for the afternoon at the many wineries that dot our town. By 5 PM, when we talked to her ("Mommy, it's my birthday!!"), it became clear that she wouldn't even remember any birthday dinner with her parents, so I just implored her friends to take good care of her, keep her away from motorized vehicles and get her home (either home, hers or ours) safely.

I'm still having a hard time believing that our kids are -- or will soon be -- adults! (Aleks and Kat will turn 18 in November.) I think we're really lucky that they've turned out to be such great kids and they often choose to be with us when they could have easily gone the "my-parents-are-so-lame-get-me-outta-there" route. I've threatened all of them with emotional and bodily harm if they ever choose to move more than an hour's drive away from us, but I know that we actually have no control over where their lives take them, and all we can do is support them. EVEN if they raise our grandchildren far away -- which would, to be honest, break my heart.

I always knew the whole "empty nest" thing would be hard for me, even before I had kids. When my brothers and I left home and my parents were on their own and seemed to actually like and welcome the freedom, I knew that time would be harder for me. But then, I've always been more maternal and child-oriented than my own mom, for whom having children was more an "oooops" and an after-thought than a life focus.

Around this time next year, Peter, Aleks and Kat will all be preparing to fly the coop and head off to college. Peter (and Danelle) will head to Eastern Washington to finish his last two years of college at Washington State (Wazzu) and Aleks and Kat will likely head to the University of Washington (U-Dub), which is right across the bridge, but if I'm a good mom who's able to let go, I'll regard their situation as much as "off to college far away" as I did with Elisabeth at Cal.

And then it will be up to Tom and me to decide what to do. Grow together or grow apart... stay in this big family home or move... stagnate or progress... change direction or stay the course. I am scared about that time -- not because the kids will all be gone, as much as because we'll have some re-defining and re-prioritizing to do, which is always hard -- especially when the kids have been such a strong and distinct focus for so long.

But that's still more than a year away, so I choose not to think about it (much) now.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When my "babies" were leaving the nest, I was ready for them to go. My husband and I were married for only three years when the youngest left, so we were still getting to know each other. During those three years I also lost my mother (who lived with us), so that definitely put a strain on our marrige. So, the freedom to really get to know each other without distraction was great. I'm sure it will be a whole different story for you and your husband, but hopefully you will take this opportunity to grow closer and rediscover each other.

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