The Selfish Years

Momservation: Is it just me, or does everyone both love and hate the song “Cats in the Cradle”?

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“When you coming home, son?”

“I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then, Dad, we’re gonna have a good time then.”

Everyone knows these lyrics. Who hasn’t gotten a twinge in their heart every time they’ve heard “Cats in the Cradle” and not taken it as a cautionary tale about not spending enough time with your kids?

I know Hubby and I personally made sure that this wasn’t going to be the theme song for our family dynamic.

I quit my job to stay home with my kids. Hubby made sure he got to work early so he could be home shortly after the kids got home from work. I read to them, made crafts with them, played in the yard with them, and chaperoned every field trip they’ve ever been on. Hubby coached their teams, we cheered every game, every talent show, every event where there was a stage to shine. We ate dinners together, took trips together, did holiday fun together, and did everything possible to make sure these kids knew they were absolutely worth our time and love.

Then the Better Offer Years (Inside Arden, May 2017) hit when they became teenagers, and the first chords of “Cat’s in the Cradle” began to play despite everything we did to change the notes.

“Son, I’m so proud of you, can you sit for a while?”

“What I’d really like, Dad, is to borrow the keys, see you later, can I have them please?”

So how was my Thanksgiving break with my oldest child home from college for the first time, you ask?

Heart twinging. Cue “Cats in the Cradle.”

Hubby and I put in excellence in raising our kids. I guess we expected excellence in return.

And, I think we’re going to get it. It’s just going to take a little bit of time for a healthy return on our investment. We just have to ride out the Selfish Years.

You know these years. You likely went through them too. I know I did. Went off to college and got a taste of independence, thinking this living on your own thing was pretty easy and fantastic (and not taking into account that the reason it was all parties and easy living, was because you didn’t have to pay for the bulk of it). It was all about you and what your next fun adventure was and which friends you were going to do it with and making a quick phone call home to get money to fund tuition, books, rent, food, and utilities so you could save your money for the cover charges, $1 Cadillacs and Long Island Ice Teas at Popeye’s and Yucatan Liquor Stand, and a plate of fries at The Graduate.

During the Selfish Years, when you actually did go home, you did your family obligations as quick as possible so you could take off and go hang out and catch up with your friends from home, continuing the quest to chase a good time at all costs.

Not realizing those costs were the family who missed you terribly and was wondering when they would get their turn in your rotation—that likely wouldn’t come unless they took you shopping for things you needed, or food that you didn’t have to pay for, or promise that you could leave again and go play with your friends if you just did this one thing for them.

Oh yeah, those years. Not our best moments.

So, I’m trying to have perspective and patience for these Selfish Years and I’ve decided to treat it like a downturn in the stock market: You can’t panic and yank everything you put in out. You’re in it for the long haul. You have to be patient and ride out this heart twinging time, because in the end, when you make a good investment, it usually pays off.

Your kid will likely come out the other end of the Selfish Years if you raised them right. They end up taking school more seriously as graduation looms and they realize it’s time to put their degree to good use. The part time jobs to fund parties and beer turn into internships that will lead to job experience and making important contacts. When, inevitably, they start taking over paying their own bills, appreciation takes root for what was provided for them; along with seeds of guilt that they hadn’t been more thankful or said “Thank you” at all for this leg up in life that was provided interest free.

Then friends peel off, busy making their own way in the world while real job demands and adult responsibilities begin to command their own time. Soon the Selfish Years, hopefully, end up in their rear view mirror as they look ahead and realize this great road to opportunity and possibilities they are travelling on was paved by the love and support of family.

We’re gonna have a good time then.

#LoveAndPatience  #TheSelfishYears  #GrownAndFlown

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