Last Saturday night, while checking my Facebook page for earth-shattering activity, updates or events that I might have missed in the last twenty-four hours, I connected with my middle-aged cousin, who was in contact with 3 of her other friends while, at the same time, I was in contact with another of mine. She drew my attention to the coincidence and via instant messaging, we wrote comments to each other on what our lives have become. We couldn’t help but notice how many of us were sitting alone at our computers at 10:00 p.m. on a Saturday night, attempting to make contact with the outside world.
Then it occurred to me that I have noticed an outpouring of sentiment on the “empty nest syndrome” this summer by my Facebook friends and it makes me feel supported as I adapt to my life without the kids. One friend “is wondering how many other moms/dads are missing their little girls/boys who have flown off to university?” and another says, “That old needlepoint sampler I did years ago about giving them “roots and wings” is mocking me today” and “I have never been happier that text messaging exists.”
I received an email from another Mom distressed and surprised by her out-pouring of grief to be separated from her son. While yet another friend blogs, “Today I am mourning the end of my steadfast fall routine. There will be no shopping trips to Staples for binders and pens, no hunting for the perfect backpack.” (You all know who you are). It seems many of us are reaching out for more connection at this time in our lives.
A current article at More.ca states that the fastest growing demographic on Facebook “is actually women at or approaching midlife (ages 35 to 54 to be exact).” I would like to think this statistic shows we are the “cool” mature women or that we are seeking to fill our empty time by nurturing our neglected friendships. But, I suspect we are also looking to maintain a connection with our kids, even if it is one-sided and somewhat creepy.
When my two kids were traveling through the states together in May, viewing their Facebook updates and photo albums showed me where they were and that they were happy and healthy without the stalking-type text messages and voicemails that might have tempted me otherwise. I know they want to be independent but I still want to be part of their world, which often seems more exciting than my own.
How many of us have learned to text in order to communicate using the preferred method of our children? And how many of us get a faster response by sending a text message? It’s like an instant reward for the all the hard work and effort we have put into raising these great young adults.
Then there is Skype. When I can see my kids, I am happier. I can tell if they have eaten, if they are tired or sick. And I can blow them kisses. Thank heavens! How did our parents get along without it?
Even though we aren’t with our kids, our relationships aren’t gone. Life is progressing as it should and our relationships are maturing. So, I know text messages and Facebook don’t replace the sound of a voice, and Skype is not a hug, but we are lucky to have these connections, creepy or not. And we are so cool and grateful, aren’t we?