E.T. Call Home (Who Cares if E.T. Calls?)*

In case you've been living under a rock and missed the memo, I have four grown kids. Two girls, two boys. They all left the nest at various ages, for varied reasons, and in completely varying states of mind. When they moved out I had a couple of rituals. First, the shopping. Second, "the talk".

The shopping was easy. I took them to the grocery store for their first go-round of basic shopping. I bought them staples that always cost a lot but get you by for awhile. Things like flour, sugar, salt, pepper, basic spices, along with canned goods and pastas and enough to know they weren't going to starve the first week or so.

"The talk" was as varied in nature as the kid I was talking to. Mainly, the jist was we love you, but we're not gonna bug you. You're an adult now and we think you should be treated as one so I won't call you – you call us. I never wanted to be the mom that bugged the hell out of their kids to call home or to come see me. I did try and let them know that this wasn't from lack of love or interest, just a desire to give them some space.

My kids have, for the most part, moved in and out through the years. Sometimes back home for a couple of days when they were having relationship troubles, sometimes for months when things fell through and they needed to re-group. I always wanted to be the kind of mom that was there if my kids needed me – for anything. My parents weren't like that and I remember what a helpless, hopeless feeling it was when they weren't there to turn to.

Anyway, when my youngest daughter recently moved out on her own again she mentioned my phone rule and said she didn't mind if I called or even stopped over. I did tell her that being a single, attractive young woman out on her own I might want to keep a bit more contact with her. Like… daily? My reasoning being a.) she's not living with anyone who would notice if she didn't come home without reason and b.) have I mentioned she's attractive? I accept all forms of proof of life – a typical text message conversation between us may go something like:

me: are you alive?

her: no. i'm dead in the alley by the dumpster

me: okay. as long as i know

So, yes, she too has the smart-ass gene. However, that is considered proof of life. I also consider it to be proof when she blogs. So, one child taken care of.

Youngest son farms with Hubs so he's pretty well under the microscope on a daily basis. Hubs not only knows what he's doing and where he is, but has probably told him what to do and where to be! If he isn't working, he's more than likely doing something related to his race car and can be found in or around the shop, the race shop, or watching someone else race. Occasionally his fiancé gets him to do something non-race related, in which case we're probably aware of it, too.

Now, the older kids I don't keep as good track of as I should. Mostly because they went out of the house under "the talk" and have been surrounded by other people.  My eldest, my daughter, is married and has a child and I don't have to worry that she will end up missing and no one would know. I know she's busy and I try to stay out of her way. She and her husband were the ones who got me hooked on World of Warcraft (thankyouverymuch) so when the i-net is cooperating I'm often able to 'chat' with her online while we play. That's been fun. Offline, I just hate to bug her. I try to get together with her at least once a month to talk and if we're lucky and organized enough we can get together in person and play and talk and laugh and eat and catch up on every little thing.

My eldest son is the one who recently got married. I have barely spoken to him since the wedding. We saw them in August when they came for Hubs' birthday, but haven't really spoken to him since – except the occasional photo message or text message. I get information 'through the grapevine' for what is going on with them, but hate to call. I always feel I'm bugging them. I know they both work hard and when they get home they just want to relax (don't we all?) and I hate to call and pester them about what's been going on in their lives. Still? I am interested. I really DO want to know. I felt better when I knew they checked the internet more often and read my blog – at least I felt they knew what was going on with me. Now? I'm overdue to be calling them and trying to figure out when I can call that won't feel like an inconvenience.

Last, I'm the worst one to talk about this. I can go for weeks without talking to my own parents in person. I'll e-mail them (which, half the time my mother loses the e-mail in the spam folder then writes to complain I haven't written for … weeks when it was actually just a couple of days). I try to go see them at least once a month, but it is a chore and I'm not comfortable doing it. (Yeah. You've heard about it, and probably will again.) My mother-in-law's phone calls get screened by me (thank God for caller ID!) but I really shouldn't do that. She almost always has some urgently burning question that I'm to drop everything and respond to – while she apologizes in 300 words why she shouldn't be calling me. Hubs said it once perfectly: The woman has more words to say less than any person we've ever met. Also, Hubs sees her pretty much every day so I'm not worried that she's going to disappear without anyone knowing either.

So… here's your quiz for the day.

  1. If you have grown kids, do you call them or do they call you? (Or do you just have a face-to-face relationship)
  2. If YOU are a grown kid, do you call your parents or do they call you? (Same as above – face-to-face?)
  3. Is the communcation strained or easy?

* If you don't know who E.T. is, you are too young to be reading this blog. Go away and tell your mom or dad about my site.