West Side Stories

A Tosa resident for almost 20 years, Karen is a mom and freelance writer, addicted to playing tennis. When not on the tennis court, she spends the fall and winter in the stands at Green Bay Packer and Marquette basketball games.

Karen is the author of “Grab a Bite,” a dining out column and the former community columnist for the Wauwatosa NOW newspaper.

How Toy Story 3 Came to Define my Summer

Kids, Personal

I should have seen it coming, but 2010 is turning into the metaphorical equivalent of the book “Who Moved My Cheese?” This business best-seller, written by Spencer Johnson M.D., talks about change – how to recognize it and how to deal with it. And because I am on the cusp of both being an “empty-nester” and hitting the half-century mark, my cheese is nowhere to be found.

Once I tell people that our son has moved to L.A. and our daughter is headed to Nashville for college, they immediately ask: “So, what are you going to do now?” It’s a loaded question, one that I only sort of danced around for the last couple of months.

And then I saw “Toy Story 3.”

If you haven’t yet seen the movie, don’t worry, I won’t spoil it for you. I will tell you that it’s one of the best movies I’ve seen in years and I’ll also tell you that you do NOT need to see it in 3D.

The basic premise is that Andy is going to college. This is a deep and profound concern for his toys, namely Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Jessie and the rest of the gang. Their primary goal was to be there for Andy and now Andy no longer needs them…or so it seems.

Um, hello…a more accurate script of my current situation could not be written. In my case, I am the toys and I am faced with reassessing my purpose. A mother’s job is to be there for her kids, but what happens when the kids are no longer there for her? Suddenly, my job description has changed. My cheese has moved.

I’d like to tell you that I have a plan, but honestly, I don’t. I’m very much looking forward to hanging out with my husband who has been playing second fiddle to the kids for far too long. It’s about time that we eat what WE want to eat, see movies that WE like and renew our own relationship. I also want spend more time with my own parents who are less ambulatory and still make me feel needed.

Truth be told, this will be a huge adjustment – for all of us. I will try to learn how to let go and my daughter will learn that life at home was pretty darn good. (A lesson our son figured out after a year out of college.)

Like Woody, Buzz and Jessie, I’m pretty certain that the future is bright, even if it is a little cloudy right now. And I'm not even thinking about that growing old issue - one thing at a time, please!

In the meantime, go see Toy Story 3...even if your cheese hasn't moved or you don't have kids. But bring a tissue.

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