The Best Gift


I’m getting the best present ever. Even with what has turned out to be a pretty weird year, there’s reason to celebrate. Our son is about to graduate from what seemed an endless four and a half years at a Mainland university. And, hallelujah, he’s come home.

Every time I write about my angst at sending our son away to school, you readers write to me about your own experiences coping with “empty nest” syndrome. I love looking back at your stories.

Your worries, fears and sometimes clumsy, sometimes frantic attempts to parent from afar are achingly and hilariously familiar. Your stories resonate with me and with every mom and dad whose kids have gone off into the big, wide world.

Look at what reader Reiko Nomura wrote to me in 2014:

“I had the exact same questions/concerns as you. I had to think it over if you were writing about me!!!

“I, too, have a son away at college (University of Arkansas).

“I, too, made him call me from every airport he arrived at, when he got onto the shuttle, when he finally arrived at school.

“I, too, worried if he was happy, made new friends, doing well in school, wearing clean clothes, eating well, etc.

“Finally, after two years, I am at ease and not an irritating mosquito.”

An irritating mosquito? Well, buzz, buzz, buzz, Reiko, I can relate.

She went on to say: “Our sons are now young men and doing very well on their own.  It was our overwhelming smothering and over protectiveness that gave them the assurance and then the confidence that they can do it alone.  We have succeeded as mothers.

“P.S.  I still sleep with my cell phone right next to me.  With the 5-hour time difference I never know when/if he needs me for anything.  It is my security blanket knowing that I am only a cell phone away, no matter what time it is.”

Reiko, I hear you. We never really get over the urge to be there for our children. We are mama (and papa) bears. We protect our young. We cherish and love our babies fiercely and heaven help you if you try to hurt them.

We also know it’s natural for them to want to get away from all that overwhelming parental concern. They want to grow up. And if we’ve done our job, they’ll succeed.

Here and now, in 2016, our son’s college adventure is about to end. Not all went smoothly, of course, and through some mistake on someone’s part-- it doesn’t matter whose—he’s one class shy of graduating. But it’s 2016, people, he can take that class online!

So basically, he’s done. He’s home and happy to be here. I guess he’s finally had enough of the frigid West Virginia winters. Hawaii no ka oi, right?

I emailed Reiko to ask if I could use her name in this column. She agreed and gave me a little update:

“My son will be graduating soon too.  AND I still sleep with my cell phone next to my ear.”

Haha, thanks Reiko.

And to all of my MidWeek readers and Ohana, Have a toast (or two) to the holidays!




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