Future shock

So many things I want to write about, but the one uppermost in my mind at the moment is this essay by Madeline Levine in the weekend NYTimes.  It’s about reimagining yourself after the kids have “left the nest.”

When the Snork Maiden was a baby and a small child, the business of getting through the current version of life as we knew it tended to drive out most thoughts of future versions, with the possible exception of wistful thoughts of how nice it would be not to change diapers any more, or trying to imagine when it would be OK to leave her alone to run out to the store.

Now she approaches the beginning of high school, and while daily life does still consume a lot of energy and thought, I’m finding it increasingly easy to imagine the growing independence she will have over the next few years.  Surely this is largely because I’ve watched my students follow this trajectory; it’s my sixth spring at SA, and we’re about to graduate the fourth class of students I’ve taught (and the third that I taught when they were freshmen).  But it’s also because I followed this trajectory myself, as a teenager, and I well remember how much I wanted independence, too.

Mike Riera, author of Field Guide to the American Teenager and other books (including Surviving High School, a well-thumbed copy of which I keep in my classroom), tells parents that we have to get ourselves “fired from the job of being our kids’ manager and rehired in the role of consultant.”  I guess the thing that keeps me from being too sad about the Snork Maiden growing up–beyond the fact that this is what’s supposed to happen–is the hope of being one of her consultants for many years to come.


2 responses to this post.

  1. That’s a great attitude, Meansomething! I’ve never understood parents feeling sad that their kids are growing independent. (Maybe I’d feel different if I were a parent?)

    But I sure know what it’s like to chaff at feeling frustrated by a parent who tried to hold on too hard in some ways.


    • Posted by meansomething on May 13, 2013 at 4:35 am

      I think that it’s probably possible to be happy your kids are growing independent while simultaneously feeling like the pursuit to which you’ve devoted yourself for years is becoming obsolete. According to Levine, having other pursuits to keep you busy doesn’t necessarily diminish the loss of this one…


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