The act of having your kids move out has been likened to little chicks leaving the nest. The nest gets crowded and the baby birds feel the need to spread their wings and fly. This is the natural progression of things. Oh sure, there are those times when the parent birds actually have to push the chicks out of the nest to get them to fly. But, normally the baby birds are as anxious to leave as the parents are to be done barfing up worms for the little darlings.
My kids all did originally move out at the usual ages and for the usual reasons. They wanted to feel independent and grown up. They wanted to make their own rules and have the freedom to do what they wanted, when they wanted. They were ready to leave the nest.
I think the shock for every young person is that rules follow you wherever you go. They’re just different rules: Your car will die as soon as you move out. Or you will lose your job. Or your best friend/roommate turns out to be unreliable. It soon becomes clear that the nest was a pretty sweet deal. It was safe and warm and food just magically appeared out of nowhere. Now, the thing is, that in the animal world, once the chicks leave the nest, they aren’t allowed back in. Ever.
I know parents who practiced this method of child rearing. They actually gave their kids luggage for their high school graduation gift. Their message was clear: “We fed you for 18 years, now fly away!” I just can’t be that kind of mama bird.
The reasons for my kids moving back home were as varied as they are; they wanted to go back to school (a very good reason!), they wanted to switch careers, they wanted to get married and needed to save for a house, they were deep in debt and needed a place to live (and eat!). When approached with any of these reasons, our reaction was always the same; pile those baby birds back into the nest!
That’s not to say it was always easy, for any of the parties involved. My kids often had to remind me that they were adults. The line between parent and child is weird when your adult kids are living with you. Apparently, you’re not supposed to ask them if they need to go potty before they leave the house. And, texting them to see if they’re still alive because it is late and they’re not home yet is another big no-no. Who knew?
Plus, this made for a very crowded nest at times. But, it also made for incredible memories. The late night gab-fests, the hilarious stories they shared, and even TV and ice cream dates never would have happened had we lived in separate homes. I like my kids and the adults they’ve become. They’re kind, intelligent, and really funny. They make the very best roommates.
And so, as my middle child prepared to move back out after switching careers and paying off debt, I stood at the door and hugged her and cried. She teared up a bit too and then said, “Oh, for heaven’s sake, Mom, I’m thirty!”
Not in my eyes, little chick. And, no matter how far you fly, there will always be room in this nest for you.