Monday, March 01, 2010

Mr. Tough Guy

Sometimes, as parents, we wonder if we’ve done our job well enough – or too well.

As an empty nester, I suppose I should stop thinking about parenthood. However, I write a lot about parents: would-be parents, adoptive parents, unexpectedly pregnant parents, surrogate parents (as in my upcoming August release, His Hired Baby), and so on. So the topic feels very immediate.

Right now, I’m working on the fourth book in my Safe Harbor Medical miniseries from Harlequin American, tentatively titled Officer Daddy. This one incorporates a surprise pregnancy, so the whole parenting issue remains in the future, but it’s definitely on my heroine’s mind. Plus, she and the hero – who’s still in the dark about his impending fatherhood – volunteer to counsel teen parents.

Also, being an empty nester may mean the kids are out of my sight, but they’re hardly out of my mind, especially when the one in college. There are, for instance, those urgent NM phone calls and emails. NM, as you probably figured out, stands for Need Money.

Lately, we’ve received numerous nerve-wracking NM calls for $100 hospital emergency room copays. It seems our younger son’s shoulder, dislocated in too many tumbles off the skateboard, developed a will of its own. It’s been popping out even when the guy’s only lying in bed, perhaps dreaming about skateboarding.

Next week, my 20-year-old baby of the family is scheduled for outpatient shoulder surgery. And – here’s the did-we-do-something-wrong-or-right part – he doesn’t want his parents to come. Neither of us.

This tough guy is certain his friends and roommate can help him get home and that he can handle everything else by himself. That includes, two days later, getting on a plane and flying here for spring break.

I’m glad he’s independent. I respect his self-sufficiency and the fact that he’s charting a responsible course toward the future, doing well in his classes and planning to become a high school science teacher. I remind myself that not wanting us there doesn’t mean we’re lousy parents, only that we can be annoyingly fussy sometimes.

In fact, if he hadn’t received the love and emotional support he needed as a child, he’d probably be clinging to us a lot harder. Hmm. Makes me wonder if I should have hugged him less.

But that wasn’t really a choice, now, was it?


Leigh Duncan said...


As parents, our job is never quite over, is it? I'm thinking not many college students would be able to go through all the testing and prelim work and set up their own surgery, so you've definitely done a great job with your son. But I wouldn't rule out a, "Mom, this is worse than I thought, can you come?" call the afternoon of the surgery.

Jacqueline Diamond said...

Gee, that's a scary thought!

Estella said...

Once a parent, always a parent, even if your child is 48 years old.

Linda Henderson said...

My oldest daughter is getting ready to turn 34 and my youngest will be 28 this year so my nest has been empty for quite a while. I see or talk to them every day but I do miss them being around more.