best transition ever: grandparenting
natalie today show

with Natalie caine

Sometimes you just feel an underlying sadness

August 4, 2004 | by Natalie Caine | No Comments

By Natalie Caine |

Sometimes you just feel an underlying sadness. It is not predictable. It just
shows up as a time to cry a little , to remember. When I see parents with young
children, it seems the same phrase keeps coming into my head , OH THEY have
such a long way to go to freedom. So something tells me I do appreciate my freedom
of not being a fulltime mother. I also feel so proud of myself for the way I
did parent. Now that I am further out from having her at home, I can reflect
on the precious and difficult times of parenting .

I don’t want to be responsible for another life as often as I needed to be,
and yet I love when she calls and when she comes home. Truth is, I am happy
when she leaves.. I feel the release. Like time for me, my old friend who had
to wait while I again was traveling the parenting story. The transition for
me is easier now. I don’t like doing the airport scene so I negotiated having
the home and meal ready and then helping with the packing and send off from
home. It works for all of us.

The little time we do get to talk, I like her stories and I like playing the
role of support and listener with a few comments.. It is just a way to connect
and be with each other. It doesn’t really matter what we were talking about
with each other. Hearing her voice, sounds corny, I know , brings a smile. And
there are times I don’t want to be the responsible parent, like when she lost
has something or the funds are low. The ” I can’t find….would you look
and see if I left it home?” Could you make me a dentist and hair appt.?”

What they most seem to want to talk about are their relationships at school.
Believe in them. They need that from you.

Some kids don’t want to email or call much, so you can just honor their need
for independence and trust that your relationship is still loving and connected.

They are tired with all the responsibilies and affects of the new environment.
Their sleeping patterns change .

Time management, who to trust, new relationships, missing out on groups and
parties, deadlines, more reading than ever before, weather changes and budgeting
money in new ways. No car to get away for awhile. Loneliness and things not
working like their phone , computer, etc.

Suggesting they get flu shots in health center with a friend, find out where
counseling office is and maybe have an appt. beforethey really need one… check
in with their advisor by email if not office visit, develop resources on campus
like career office and tutors.. these are some ideas, but they may not want
to do any “planning ahead”. They can fall and learn to pick themselves
up again.

Initially, the kids talk about there being so many choices of clubs and things
to join and do, that they feel pushed to do it all, and that isn’t possible.
They don’t want to be left out, or miss out on some fun.

When she calls about relationship issues and asks what to do, I would say,
so beam ahead and with that choice can you take the risk, and still know that
you can handle the results, and be kind to yourself no matter how it works out…
She says that helps, because it gets her in touch with what she can handle at
that time. What she is imaging in her mind that could happen, and how she WOULD
FEEL ABOUT that… sometimes passing on an experience is a wise decision. Opportunities
will come around again and that is the inner trust they develop

College is learning about relationships, different ways of thinking and feeling
and possibilities of career and creativity… .growing up with more independence
and responsibilities.

Roommate differences, talking it, out getting advice from RA and other friends,
hanging in there, and then letting go and making a change, moving out… It
happens and no you don’t have to fly there and help them move again… They
do it.

They want to go home with a friend for the weekend and the parenting feeling
comes up again, like the voice of: should she take a present, does she have
enough money, do I know their name and phone number, who’s driving, and then
you say STOP , she can figure it out. Don’t ask questions… she will probably
have her cell phone if you really need to reach her… letting go AGAIN.

The Truth is THERE ARE NO RULES. There are moments and figuring it out as you
are in it. You trust yourself and they learn to trust themselves… .Let them
fly, higher and freer.

Once, I was so grateful for the girls that are in her singing group, that I
just didn’t know how to thank them besides telling them when I was with them..
I felt they were like extended family to this new comer in their singing group.
They were all ages. I admire them for the courage they have, to sing and perform,
and dedicate themselves to three nights a week of practice… so I decided to
send a box of See’s Candy lollipops for being so sweet to my daughter. Of course
you can’t send something really fattening or that might not be considered a
gift rather a curse.

I cry a little when she emails a photo of them performing and I missed it.
That will happen often, so I tell myself I can’t be at all of the events, since
she is 3000 miles away…. Some I will be able to see. And I have. Cried there
too. So proud of her.

I often acknowledge her by saying: I think that was so brave, how you handled
that situation with that girl, or the way you processed that disappointment
was so mature”””” just brief but specific love notes on
the phone.

HAPPENING TO ME”, then I can drop into the listener and compassionate mom.
That works for me.

I take her criticism of me in stride: like the time she said my emails had
too many reminders in them, or that she knew I called, because she saw 1 missed
message, so if she didn’t get back to me it is because she can’t.. That was
good for me to hear and I honored it. Not a problem. Thanks for letting me know….
If it is really imp I will leave a message and say so. Not going for being right,
going for having connections of trust and respect.

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Natalie Caine, M.A.