Thursday, April 05, 2007


Allow me a father's lament. I know that we raise our kids to be worthy adults, to be proper citizens, self reliant and mature.
But then when they reach that stage of their lives and we are compelled to let them go, those parental attachments are difficult to cut. As parents we are used to being the all knowing problem solvers. We are accustomed to being the experts, the organizers, the take-charge-get-it-done-doers. So when they tell us that they have it under control and don't really need our help, we take the blow like a left hook to our pride and stagger back to our corner to lick our wounds. We have become superfluous.

Jonathan and Katie have bought their first house and are in the process of moving in. So far my son has allowed me to help just one day, doing some minor carpentry fix-it stuff and a bit of cleaning. He allowed his mother to spend that same day cleaning and shampooing the carpets. Since then alll my offers of help have been shunted aside. I feel so superfluous.

It's true, he may be sparing me the difficulty of all the physical work involved with moving furniture since my best physical days are behind me, but my supervisory and organizing powers remain undiminished and apparently unneeded. He has a large cadre of big, strong, YOUNG friends who are more than willing to help, so my presence would be in the category of in-the-way. I don't do in-the-way very well so it is probably best that I am not there to play that role. Still, I can't help feeling that I could quite possibly prevent him from making some wrong turns along the way by sharing my experience and extensive knowledge. But I guess he prefers to make his own mistakes along the way and presumably learn from them. So superfluous now describes me quite well.

I never thought it would come to this. My son has grown up and has taken charge of his life and is moving on through his adult life. Had I known this was going to happen I would not have let him grow up. I don't like feeling superfluous.


Wiccachicky said...

I only let my dad help us for one day when we moved in too. I prefer to have my parents down once things are settled where I can entertain them and have them feel comfortable. So it's probably not a slight at all -- more thinking about you and your health.

Kat said...

Ah, that is the hardest of the hard days, when we realize our excellent parenting has turned out self-sufficient young adults. It'll be okay, Bob, he'll get all this independence nonsense out of his system and soon be asking your advice again.

The Rev. Dr. Kate said...

I echo Kat here - rather than feeling superflous, pat yourself on the back for the wonderful job you did raising a self-reliant child who wants to make his own mistakes. And yes - he will call on you once he figures out he has made a mistake he can't fix. As I get ready to watch my older son graduate from high school and to head off into his own life at college, I am trying to take the advice I am going to give you: Your job as a parent is to make yourself obsolete. Then you become a valued friend and companion to your now adult child.
Let's let each other know how this works out, ok?

Sophmom said...

I wandered over by way of Se7en's links on Blogs Gone Wild. Golly, do I know this feeling!?

Lovely blog, Bob. I'll stop by again!