A sneak peak at
The Next Chapter (11/22/10)
Long before the current crop of Mommy memoirs, Marni Jackson wrote a book called The Mother Zone. It was full of the fun and frustration of new parenthood, and when it came out in 1992, it was also a revelation.
Now, books about life with baby are a dime a dozen. It's the other end of the spectrum, the last lap of parenting, that is the current focus of literary attention. This in-between stage of emerging adulthood, where your children can move back and forth between independence and the family home, is the subject of Jackson's latest book, Home Free.
Whereas The Mother Zone covered the first eight years of Jackson's life with her son, Casey, Home Free picks up the story almost 10 years later. Casey is now a university student in Montreal, and Jackson is struggling to resist the urge to over-manage his life as he drops out of school, travels and re-enrols in university all while floating between independence and the security of his parents' home.
It's a story that is becoming increasingly familiar to Canadian parents. But that doesn't mean it didn't come as a shock to Jackson when her son's life took a trajectory much different from her own.
"I sort of brought a template to growing up which I now realize was out of date," Jackson told Shelagh Rogers on The Next Chapter recently. "At 18 you go off to college, perhaps, or go to school or you leave home, and you settle on a career and that's it. You're gone. We wouldn't have dreamed staying home past 19 or 20."
Jackson explores the reasons for this shift with great humour and grace in Home free. She traces the change to differences in the structure of society and the family. True, the economy may be more difficult to navigate for young people just starting out, but Jackson also points to closer ties between parents and children, a longer "growing up trajectory" and the after-effects of over-parenting.
Then again, she suggests that closer ties in immediate families may simply be a more natural state of being.
"Most of the world lives in a loose clan. Most of the world lives close to their families, and I do think this business of kids leaving home and disappearing from our lives is a bit of a historical aberration. It's only perhaps been true of my generation, of the boomer generation, because we had it easy. We had the jobs. We had the economy. Youth was golden. We had so many options," Jackson later said. "Things aren't like that for our kids now."
Hear the full episode this Monday, November 22, at 1 pm.
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