But what if a member of the family doesn’t live in the household? Lisa Belkin at Motherlode has a freshman in college. When it came time to fill out her census form, her heart hurt a little when she realized she wouldn’t be counting her oldest child. Belkin writes:
What I did not expect was that the first thing the form asked me to do is deny my older son. “Do not count anyone living away either at college or in the Armed Forces” (or nursing homes and prisons) it said. “Leave these people off your form, even if they will return to live here after they leave college, the nursing home, the military, jail, etc. Otherwise they may be counted twice.”
….But it happened to be my college freshman’s birthday when I opened the letter, the first birthday I had ever spent apart from him. Friends have asked all year if I miss him, and I hadn’t really, not in an aching way, until he wasn’t there that particular morning, when there was a census form where a stack of birthday cards should be.
Letting go can be hard, and clearly this was that kind of moment for Belkin. So it probably came as a surprise when some of her commenters took her to task for being so sentimental. Here’s a sampling.
“Am I the only one who thought this sentiment was ridiculous? Maybe because I am not a parent.” — BN
“This is just silly. No one is asking you to “deny your older son.” They’re asking you a simple question about who lives full-time in your house. And your older son doesn’t.” –Ashley Trailrunner
“An insensitive, “fluff” Motherlode blog entry.” — Jersey Mom
“This is a bit much. You are not being asked to deny or ignore your son….I will not tell anyone how they should respond emotionally to a situation. But to describe it as such is intellectually dishonest. That is not the case here and it should not be represented as such.” — BSK
Belkin responded to her critics:
Of COURSE I’m not being asked to “deny” him. I think a few readers are taking my words a little literally, no? This was a post about a moment that reminds me how time is movies (sic) on and how my children — as they should — are moving away. I am not angry at the census. I like the census. This point of the post, actually, was to remind people to fill out the form. And it was a chance for a Mom to muse about missing her son on his birthday. That’s all.
As a fellow sentimental mom who thinks her kids are growing up way too fast, I completely understood how Belkin must have felt that day. Don’t we all get those twinges now and then? But was it post-worthy? And was she, as some readers pointed out, being insensitive to parents who’d lost children since the last census? What do you think?
Photo: quinn.anya on Flickr