It was a busy weekend helping my son move to his first apartment. The move went the way moves go; not as quickly or as easily as one expects. But, the hard part is finished.
When I say the hard part is finished, I mean the physical part of moving. I haven't really thought through what not having our son living at home really means. I'm happy to see him establish his own place and he's only going to be a few miles away. But, this is the real beginning of him starting his own life somewhere else. He has a demanding job. He has a close circle of friends. In other words, he has a life outside of our family. Six miles might as well be sixty or six hundred.
On one level it's not really that big a deal for me. I've been the father in "The Cat's in the Cradle" to a certain degree – not quite as bad as the song, but in the past I have thrown myself into things like jobs and writing and cycling and sports to a point that I missed out on stuff. Sometimes I feel like something is missing there and it's my fault.
Harry Chapin's song was released in 1974. According to Wikipedia, the song is based on a poem his wife wrote about her first husband and his father (which means it must be true.) That means the sentiment is three or four generations old. Does it still hold? Of course. "Progress" has made us more distracted and less able to pay attention to what really matters. That's sad.
What has changed is that it's a lot more difficult for a kid (uh, man) born in 1990 to move out on his own, especially in an area where rent that is "only" 50% of a High School teacher's salary for a nice two bedroom apartment in a safe neighborhood is a steal. So the least I could do to make up for where I missed out earlier was let him get on his feet with tuition and student loans instead of "kicking him out."
Regrets suck and they don't get you anywhere. The best thing you can do is make things better now.