Texting Your Way into Empty Nest Happiness
Review: Text Me, Love Mom: Two Girls, Two Boys, One Empty Nest by Candace Allan
That’s why when I saw the book, Text Me, Love Mom: Two Girls, Two Boys, One Empty Nest by Candace Allan, I knew I had to read how another mom coped with the same feelings. Right away, I identified with what she said: “For years and years, I never thought much about them moving out of our home and how my heart would deal with that. It was what we were preparing them for — the launch from the nest. In the middle of it all, it was hard to believe it would ever happen. ”
When we’re raising a family, being in the middle of it all is our only reality. It’s hard to see the longer view when we’re immersed in our daily lives. When they are little, our children need us all the time. The babies are on our hips and the bigger ones have their arms around our legs. They’re looking up at us — for reassurance, for praise, and for guidance. As our children grow, our busy lives may change, but one thing seems to remain constant: our children are still children, just bigger and with different needs, and they still sleep at home. Then one day, as if by surprise, they are adults and they leave the nest, leaving us with a new role to play and a new self to consider.
In Text Me, Love Mom, author Candace Allan writes about her experience raising four free-spirited children in Calgary, Canada, and how she coped with watching them leave the nest, one by one. Allan tells her story without pretense and shares her children’s adventures and setbacks. Despite being an early helicopter mom, she learned over time how to give them the freedom they needed to try new things . . . as long as they stayed in touch. Even as three of her kids chose nontraditional paths, selecting gap years and travel after high school, Allan and her husband allowed them to find their independence, mistakes and all.
Text Me, Love Mom is written in a breezy and humorous style and also includes each of her children’s thoughts during those years, which gives her story a rounded perspective. As each of her kids moves out, Allan wonders, like many parents, if she has prepared them enough for their adult lives. And it’s not just the basics like buying and cooking food. She worries if they know how to handle money or how to trust the right people.
In retrospect, Allan admits she didn’t follow the advice she often gives now. “I had long-warned my friends not to let their kids start school at four and a half years old. Now I also tell them not to send them off to university, especially boys, at seventeen or eighteen. But no one, myself included, wants to heed that advice. We are all so anxious to have our kids take the next step. Proving what?”
Allan also offers reassurance to parents who are anxious about their own children’s departures. It’s a transition for parents as much as it is for children, but it doesn’t mean it’s the end of parenting. She realized that sending them off was simply a new phase. “Those goodbyes were momentous, but they weren’t the end, or even the middle. ”
Text Me, Love Mom is a fun and loving look at the ups and downs of showing our children how to launch from the nest. Our family is just beginning this launch and, for now, I’m still holding on tight. But Allan’s experiences assure me I’ll be okay. I think I can follow the advice she gives parents like me to respect my kids and give them the room to branch out. But if I absolutely have to let them go, I’ll be sure to remind them to text their mom now and then.
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