Empty Nest Syndrome

Living the dream…

My husband and I were the proud parents of a college graduate. We’d become empty nesters. Our celebration almost made it through graduation day.

It’d be great if History or Philosophy majors ran our country. We’d remember that the way out of a depression was the creation of living wage jobs and that war was hell. Instead many college graduates, dubbed Generation Jobless, served hamburgers or sold shoes.

Our kid was now smart enough to know her part-time, minimum wage job put her on track to become someone’s prison bitch if she couldn’t repay college debt. My daughter figured she’d settle for any full-time job to avoid folding underwear in prison. Minimum wage was okay for a sixteen year old who lived at home and played video games. Minimum wage was peanuts for a twenty-three year old with debt equal to a house payment and who had no house. The plan was to repay us for our chunk of college debt by moving out.

To keep our child from freaking out, we crunched numbers. A $10.00 an hour job grossed $22,400 a year, a $15.00 an hour job $33,600. A college grad should’ve been able to aim higher, but even a $15.00 an hour job in our area was a gross exaggeration unless you had relatives with connections, which we didn’t. Gross also hid the trap (net) to lure one into thinking you had more money than you did.

We started with the lower end wages minus taxes, college loan payments, car payments, insurance premium, car maintenance and gas. Then when she moved out rent, health insurance and after all the minuses, we realized an education doomed our child to living in her car and dining at the soup kitchen. On top of that, our child was engaged to be married next year to a college graduate looking for a better job.

Now I freaked out, but not because my educated daughter and fiancé were now my competitors in the job market and if they were screwed, I was the big F word. What freaked me was that the happy, but financially strapped couple could end up living with us for the next ten years.

Why not? The more the merrier right? Because of a donut hole and a whopping 1.7% social security raise, my parents might have to move in too. Why stop there? In ten years surely there’d be grandchildren, four generations under one roof. We’d trump the fictional Walton family by one generation.

I love my family, but we’re not a multi-generational family living in Tuscany on a sprawling farm growing grapes and olives. We’d be a six people household living together in my two bedrooms, one bathroom house.

If more than two people lived together, chances are luck wouldn’t hold against a stomach virus. An outhouse was out of the question. The only semi-level spot on the property was the driveway. To feed us, I planned to rip up the asphalt and rototill the driveway to plant a garden. I’d also have to get the neighborhood rezoned to raise chickens. Sleeping arrangements, who could sleep?

I’m one percent sure the break down of society as we knew it would be due to a college educated and a non-college educated work force.

Nepotism made sense. It was designed so your family didn’t have to live with you, but the college thing was started with the point of my child not working in Hell like I do.

Before we’d go down the road to Walton’s Mountain, I introduced my daughter to the two job system in which one person in the household worked two jobs.

The two job system was designed to make ninety-nine percent of us too tired to pay attention to the shenanigans of Kardashian’s and the elected segments of society. Two jobs made sure no one spent too much time at home since multiple generations now inhabited one house.

Maybe if my generation and Generation Jobless became tired of the two job system or with living together, we’d work together to change it.

Until then, I’d have to be content with discovering the cure for Empty Nest Syndrome: send your kid to college.


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