Nashvillian Christy Pruitt-Haynes knows firsthand the rollercoaster of emotions that comes with watching your child leave the nest: the thrill of celebrating when they receive their college admissions letters, the heartache of saying goodbye when you leave their dormitory and the bittersweet excitement of watching him grow up. adult, you always knew they could be.
And, as the title of his new book says so well, Pruitt-Haynes knows that all those complex emotions come with realization: I gotta pay for this shit. A children’s book parody, writes Pruitt-Haynes I gotta pay for this shit to help empty-nests adjust as they send their children to college, while describing the emotional and financial distress that comes with it. Inspired by her own experience sending her daughter, Christiana, to her dream college this fall, Pruitt-Haynes captures all the laughter and tears families face in this hilariously heartwarming rhyming storybook.
Life imitates art: This experience and these emotions started when my niece left for university. My sister and I have the honor of playing a big role in the lives of our two daughters, so when one of the daughters moves out, the whole family feels it. When Nia, my niece, went off to college… for the first time, I began to understand what it was like to have the most important people out of reach. The closer we got [my daughter] Applications, acceptances, and Christiana’s graduation, my anxiety levels skyrocketed: first about her leaving, then very quickly about the reality of paying for it. I had to figure it out while feeling the most extreme emotions ever. The idea for the book came to me when Christiana was accepted into her first-choice school, but I wrote it in one sitting. I’ve realized that new parents get so much support from people who understand how their lives are changing, but that same kind of community and resources aren’t available to empty nest parents, and we need it!
Page turner: Readers can expect all the conflicting emotions of joy and sadness associated with your children doing what we’ve wanted them to do for years. It’s a wonderful walk down memory lane from when they’re born, to when they learn to walk, to when they leave the nest. Readers will laugh and cry, but more than that, they will understand and see their lives reflected on every page. The phrase “laughter is the best medicine” comes to mind. Comedy is how I deal with the tough times in life. I know that once I can laugh at something, I can get away with it. I wanted this book to make parents (as well as aunts, uncles, grandparents, and students) laugh at what could be a very emotional moment. All is not sad; there’s a lot of joy in watching your child grow in life, and I wanted this book to remind everyone of that.
Words of Wisdom: I really hope the conclusion for everyone is that there is nothing wrong with having conflicting emotions. It’s normal to feel happy, sad, worried, and excited all at the same time, while being a little hurt by the amount of the check you may be writing. Most importantly, I want parents (and the people who support them) to understand that they are not alone. We are a community of current or future empty nests. When we transition into parenthood, the whole world seems to rally around us and offer support and guidance, but when we transition from day-to-day active parenting to long-distance parenting, we often feel alone. I hope this book reminds people that they are not alone. We are all here to support each other and while most people rally around our children, we also need a little rallying and support. I remind myself and other parents every day: we don’t let go; we just change our grip. This is the time in our children’s lives when they can fly with a safety net, and we are honored to be their safety net.