By Barb Arland-Fye
My husband Steve and I will become empty nesters for the second time when our younger son Patrick moves into a studio apartment this month, leaving me with mixed feelings of anticipation and apprehension.
Patrick lived in an apartment during his first two years of college but returned home to complete his studies at St. Ambrose University in Davenport while commuting from our house. Although he graduated in December 2017, he didn’t earn enough money on the job to support himself, a challenge for many young college grads, according to news reports and studies I’ve read about affordable housing.
Now 25, he works full-time at a company he respects, in a job he likes, and feels confident about making a go of it on his own. My prayers and his coincide, regarding this matter. I’ve been praying daily for Patrick to earn a good living wage on which he can support himself, live on his own and broaden his horizons.
We knew he had been researching apartment opportunities for several months because he kept us posted about his leads. He came close to getting a one-bedroom house to rent before realizing he didn’t have good vibes about the rental company.
Last week, Patrick called me at the office, excited that a rental company had accepted his application for a studio apartment in Davenport. He has signed a contract and plans to move into his new digs in the next couple of weeks.
First, he has to deal with me, his mom the worrywart. “Are you sure you can afford the monthly rent, utilities and other expenses you’ll have?” “Don’t worry,” Mom, he told me. “I’ve figured it all out.” I have to trust that the son we’ve nurtured to adulthood can make adult decisions about his future and his commitments.
The issue of adult decision making may seem like a no-brainer to other parents of young adult children, but the disability of our older son, Colin, affects our view (especially mine). Steve and I have guardianship of Colin. He remains yoked to us in a way that Patrick does not. We make the final decisions regarding Colin’s living and work arrangements for his wellbeing. So, when Patrick told me he had already signed the lease agreement for his apartment, I inhaled deeply.
Many years ago, when I graduated from college, I lived at home for a year before moving into an efficiency apartment at age 23. Like Patrick, I had a bachelor’s degree, a full-time job and the confidence to move forward because of the foundation — rooted in faith — that my parents laid for their children.
In their 2009 pastoral letter on marriage, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops observe that “the home is the first school of Christian life — and a school for human enrichment … Here one learns endurance and the joy of work, fraternal love, generous – even repeated forgiveness ….”
Patrick needs to spread his wings. I need to let him fly, trusting that God will continue to guide him on his journey, building on the good work God began when he blessed our family with each of our sons.
(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at firstname.lastname@example.org)