Adjusting to adult children

Published 3:54 pm Saturday, May 27, 2017

Giving space to loved ones isn’t always easy, particularly when it’s our children involved.

We want to keep them close, like a comfort food.

That’s probably why my son called with a hint of apprehension to tell me just more than one year ago that he and his new wife were moving to Montana. He likely suspected I would hate to see them leave the Southern region, taking away our frequent visits.

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And it’s true that during his first year of marriage, in the months preceding news of this move to Montana, we experienced many memorable family moments allowed by proximity. There was the family fly fishing trip to the South Holston River along the Tennessee-Virginia border, trips to the beach, a Father’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and more.

And when I got sick and spent days in the hospital there they were, at my side, just like that. Two hours away can deliver such physical moments of support.

But I was glad that my son and his wife found opportunity in Montana, and had the courage to make the move. With good jobs, a hunger to explore, and passion for fly-fishing and snow skiing, why not?

Any argument made for them remaining close would only have been for my selfishness. That’s why I said that the move sounds great and wished them luck.

We have spoken less in the past year than at any time during my son’s life. He’s busy, thriving professionally and personally with many friends and hobbies in a remarkable place.

And I’m busy, too.

Phone calls seem like a good idea but are not nearly as good as face-to-face time. So part of my adjustment to the move has been just letting them be, letting them live their lives.

Thinking about them, daily, but learning not to need them.

There are enough pictures of big fish caught posted to Instagram, and Facebook videos of skiing in deep snow to keep me informed. Those updates, along with periodic catch-ups, have made it more than manageable.

We did get one full week together at Christmas, worth every minute spent. Otherwise, however, that’s the only time I have seen my son in a year, and I couldn’t be happier.

For him.

For his wife.

For their lives, lived on their terms.

This isn’t a major accomplishment, since many send their children off to college far away and barely have a chance to grab them for a hug after. Others, however, don’t feel comfortable letting their young adult children get too far away, much less move to Montana.

We’ve always been somewhere in between, giving space, but enjoying the company simply because not only do we love them, we also like them. That and losing one child tends to make one cling tighter to the others.

But it’s been a year now as of this weekend that my son moved to Montana and my habit of constant contact with him has been broken by force.

When I look at what he has accomplished in that time, from thriving in the office to catching his biggest trout yet, to forging a life as his own man, I recognize that a lot of growing up has been done.

I had the courage to wave goodbye, and resisted the temptation to constantly check in, just so I would feel better.

David Magee is Publisher of The Oxford Eagle. He can be reached at