It all began with a phone call from my older son: would I be willing to accompany him to his therapist. “Oh, boy,” I thought, “this is 21st century mothering for you.” Well, I had taken him and his brother to petting zoos, attended their endless school performances, and performed all the other tasks of motherhood—so of course I accepted. When we got to therapist’s office, all I could do was cry, I felt so bad about the many mistakes I had made. But what he wanted me to know was that he loved me and wanted to be closer. That was a happy surprise. My friends and I were all experiencing the exit of our grown children from the family circle. These kids were busy building their own lives. And it took quite a lot to get them to return our phone calls. I wanted to be closer to both of my sons, but I didn’t have the language or the map that would help me get there.
I was a book editor at the time, so I asked my brilliant psychologist authors to write a book about this issue. But nobody felt the experience with the intensity that I did. Finally, after years of searching for a writer, I decided to do the book myself. After all, my specialty as an editor was teaching new authors to write books. It was time for me to take all those lessons and put them into effect for myself.
The book writing was easy for me, and the best lessons were the ones I learned from the wonderful people I interviewed. Half of the 75 were parents of grown kids from the ages of 55 to 80, and the other half were grown kids, from the ages of 21 to 55. Both groups taught me where the sensitivities lie, where it hurts. They gave me the language to express the complex feelings we all were experiencing, and in the end, I came away with an understanding of this new stage of parenting, and the efforts our children must put into the task of finally growing up.