Conversation With…Mother of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer…about empty nester worrying

Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road, I came to a huge building known as “The Worriers’ Warehouse.” In my older age, I worry more than ever. So I went inside and immediately noticed an older reindeer nervously biting her hooves. It was easy to start a conversation:

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Hey Reindeer, what are you worried about?

RUDOLPH’S MOM: My son Rudolph.

Wait. Are you telling me you’re Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’s mother?

RUDOLPH’S MOM: Yes. And I’m constantly refilling my Valium prescription.

Why? What could you possibly be worried about? He’s Santa’s personal assistant! You raised this heroic, caring reindeer who pulls a sleigh filled with presents to children all over the world.

RUDOLPH’S MOM: Christmas Eve makes me crazy for the entire year. It takes me 364 days to recover from it.

Why?

RUDOLPH’S MOM: How would you like it if your son flew across the sky all night lugging a five billion ton sleigh filled with gifts? What’s holding him up there anyway?

Magic?

RUDOLPH’S MOM: Not the most reassuring concept for a mother. What if he makes a crash landing?

I never thought of that—

RUDOLPH’S MOM: Or if he doesn’t crash, what about his physical health? He’s dragging a sleigh full of gifts for kids all over the world with just a few other reindeer. He could pull his back out.

I see your point.

RUDOLPH’S MOM: Not to mention, my Rudolph could pass out from exhaustion! Thirst! Hunger! It’s a busy night! No breaks! Very high pressure! And I know him! He’ll never say no!

Another point well taken.

RUDOLPH’S MOM: And what if Rudolph has to fly through a blizzard? Or a tornado? Or a severe thunderstorm? Who knows how high those reindeer go? My son could be hit by a meteor! Or slam into the moon! He could—

All this makes complete sense, but you’re not alone. I worry about all kinds of things with my adult kids, too.

RUDOLPH’S MOM: Like what?

Bad relationships, lack of relationships, driving at night, driving too fast, driving when the sun is rising and blocking vision, driving when the sun is setting and blocking vision, traveling in planes, buses, trains, taxis, living on pizza, needing help when there’s no one around–

RUDOLPH’S MOM: Okay, okay. We’re on the same worrying page.

But with all that, I also think we’re giving our kids one big, giant, great gift.

RUDOLPH’S MOM: Oh good. Because I never know what to get Rudolph for Christmas. What’s the gift?

The gift of freedom. That way, our adult children can DO all the things we worry about. They have a chance to figure out where they belong in the world. When we don’t call or text them every five seconds or stalk them on Facebook, we’re letting them go. It’s a gift. Even though it kills us inside.

RUDOLPH’S MOM: Well in that case…why can’t we just say to ourselves we raised mature, intelligent beings who can take care of themselves and make good choices? What if I stopped worrying about my millennial reindeer so much?

What if I stopped worrying about my adult kids so much?

RUDOLPH’S MOM: Would something be missing from our relationships with our children?

Yes. Our connection.

RUDOLPH’S MOM: Are you sure about that?

No. But I worry about it.

Copyrightoverthehillontheyellowbrickroad2018

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How do you control the amount you worry about those you care about? (This includes pets.)

54 thoughts on “Conversation With…Mother of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer…about empty nester worrying

  1. My daughter lives with us so I know she’s ok. My son lives 5 minutes from me and I haven’t seen him since March. But either way, I worry equally about both. I think it’s just something we do as parents.

    On a side note, I could live on pizza 😉

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  2. I never knew that reindeer worry so much. 😉 But then Rudolph and his mom are no ordinary reindeers. 😊
    Does living on pasta also cause worrying? Because that’s what I do sometimes. 😉

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  3. After I’ve done all the things I can to make a situation better, I tell myself that the rest is out of my control and worrying about it has never been helpful. Then the problem gets smaller and more manageable in my head (because that’s where worrying happens before it travels to the frown wrinkles and frayed nerves, and black rings around sleepless eyes). Worrying has got to be one of the most useless states of mind.

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  4. I sigh a lot, and I also smile a lot knowing that they are smart and resourceful and that they know that I worry so they do keep me posted on their lives. Thanks for sharing this fun post!

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  5. I don’t think I ever really prayed until I had kids. Now I do it all the time. As far as worrying…. It doesn’t really make my son be more careful driving on the switchbacks in CA, does it? etc etc etc The worry about 3 adult kids is always there in the back of my mind, but it’s unproductive, of course, so I just try to live my life and keep busy, because it seems that it’s out of my hands. Spontaneous smiling for no reason helps lift spirits.

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  6. I live in a different country from my children. I lived first in France with three in Britain and the fourth in Malaysia and more recently I have moved to the USA and three are in Britain and the other is now in Switzerland (very close to where I lived in France, ironically). some days I am a complete basket case and other days I effect swan-like grace. I have absolutely no idea what the difference is on the good to the bad days. I just know that mummies are mummies their whole lives through and the toughest thing is not cutting the cord but not letting them see how much it hurts us in order to give them their wings. 😕

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  7. I have a confession to make: I was once so clueless that I thought I would stop worrying about my children when they were grown up. As to how I manage the worry I still have about them (and they are 29 and 31), I’ll let you know when I figure it out!

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  8. I would say prayer is my solution, and that is something I do. But then I forget I prayed and keep worrying. Sort of negates the concept, ‘If you pray, why worry?’ My mother was not a worrier but my father was. After he had worried himself into a state over something that didn’t happen, Mom would say, “Once again, your worrying paid off.” Now that I have grandchildren, I have a new generation to worry about. Saying my prayers and writing them down so I won’t forget them. I find some relief in that! -Molly

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  9. I think worrying comes with the parenting job so you’re never “free” from it, but you do gain more perspective with time. Like understanding that freedom is necessary for your kids to learn from their mistakes. It can be hard but it’s part of life as you’ve so beautifully pointed out in your piece.

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  10. true and funny! love the conclusion. I think when we are older, we have gathered a collection of things to worry about because we have heard the stories and experienced so much ourselves. We try to raise our children to become independent, but we are mothers and it is quite unnatural NOT to worry., I think-or maybeI am just crazy, after all. love Michele and God bless our children!

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  11. Oh this is so true and timely! I was literally just worrying about my 19 year old. I know I have to let go but yup it’s hard! We train them to be independent and than its like we want to grab them back and say Wait!

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  12. Oh poor Rudolph’s momma! I worry about too much! I especially worry about my 22 year old daughter! College life scares me! I’m about to send my baby to school too😬 ugh! I’m working hard on reminding my self all the worry will not stop anything. I have to trust God with them. And trust we raised smart strong kids. Prayers for protection all the time!!

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  13. Pingback: K’s Blog Recommendations 9.6.2018 plus BUILD YOUR BLOG 101! | theblackwallblog

    • I’m so sorry it has taken me a while to respond to your Build Your Blog post! I have fallen behind with my blog reading time and I was planning to read your post today. I’m so grateful and flattered you included my blog on your list. You know that means a lot to me! Again, so sorry for the delay responding. I’ve just been a little crazed lately. I’ll get back on track soon. 🙂 🙂 Cathi

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