Someone said a long time ago that our children never stop being our children even when they leave home.
This statement is profoundly true.
Some cultures will not allow a girl-woman to leave home until it is for marriage. It is not uncommon for many families to have multiple generations living in the same household, nurturing and flourishing together.
Then there is this overly individualistic Western culture that thrives on telling kids they do not need their parents and rushes them through childhood.
Is there a balance? A time to let a child develop into their own person, yet, keep the family unit intact until they are truly read to "leave and cleave" as some ministers are known to utter?
I ponder this as I think about my son in Japan who could not come home due to a cancelled flight. His departure after high school for the Great Lakes Naval Training Center came too soon for my soul. Summer 2007 marks the time my family dynamic really shifted.
Living in the city of my birth, yet not the city of my older children's childhood, has me in a qunadry and wondering if our Western independence has cost us something too great as a nation?
My elder son remained in our former city, fiercely trying to hold on to his independence, proudly proclaiming he is making it on his own, inwardly wishing he could come home again. Do I open up the doors of this tiny, temporary quarters or wish to move back to my big five bedroom? Can we ever go back and truly flow as we once did?
The economy has forced many families to rethink what it means to be family.
Many non-European-centered households have always been multi-generational with the colorful,and sometimes noisy, celebration of life this brings. The crush of the economy and loss of jobs has been shared, nothing unusual about young college students remaining at home with mom and dad while grandma relishes them about stories of their culture. The potential to thrive is at every olive plant around the table.
Then there are families struggling to make sense of returning, adult children, and balancing it all. Sanity in some homes has taken a back seat to negotiating curfews, more stuff, loads of laundry, and that tug to return to childhood.
I sit and watch my three youngest children sleep and realize that I want them to remain close to me. Perhaps it is my age or more of a realization that they are the air I breathe. As much as I loathe their messiness or petty arguments, I cherish their quirky comments and spontaneous laughter, they enrich my life.
Older children are still the children of their parents, even if separated by geography, to them like the younger, you can come home again.