I remember vividly when my children were little, saying to myself, “In another [insert number of years] they’ll be out of the house and on their own, so [enjoy this now / this will one day be over and you’ll have your life back].”
As they grew into teens and adults, I wondered at how independent and beautiful they were, how smart, how sweet, and what a good job we had done in raising them. I practically broke my arm patting myself on the back. “Wow, I thought, look they are almost on their own and we can have our life back!” See a theme here?
Unfortunately for me (and for them, may they forgive me and not put me into a dirty, decrepit nursing home when the time comes in order to wreak revenge), a great deal of those years was spent waiting. Waiting for them to get out of diapers, waiting for them to go to school for a full day, waiting for them to …..whatever. There were times, though, when everyone was playing happily, clean, fed, dry, and I thought, “God has truly blessed me and I thank Him for what He has given me – how can one heart love to much, so deeply, so fully?” Once I started doing that I made myself do it whenever things were calm, to remind myself that God had entrusted these three souls to me and I’d better shape up and be worthy.
But, to be perfectly honest, most of those years were spent gazing at the future and waiting for it, so that I could “have my own life.”
Fast forward – now they are all married with children of their own. They have, despite their lack of a role model, become wonderful parents.
But – get this – they are still my children. Yup, that’s right, they are indeed toilet trained and earning money (thankfully in that order) and paying mortgages and buying endless boxes of cereal just like I did, but they are still my babies. And I am still their Mom.
Waiiiiiiit – you said I’d get my life back! What the….?
So those of you out there who are my age are now nodding your heads and those of you much younger are considering the option of heavy drinking and/or drug use.
Put down the bottle and keep reading. This is what happens: You get your kids out of the house, they do college, etc., and you continue to dream of the day when your last tuition bill arrives. What a relief! Then they find their soul mate and get married. Yay! Then they get jobs and are on their own! Double yay!
Then you get lonely. I mean really lonely. Why? Because – do not laugh, o ye young mothers – no one needs you anymore. Yup. It took me about a month of “Yay!” before I got to “Huh….no more kids.”
As a parent of adult children, you need to keep quiet and let them do their own thing. They don’t usually need your advice, because you did a good job (well, that’s what I tell myself when they do something smart) and they are smart and wise and cool, so you watch and enjoy.
Once I got to this stage, memories of my own mother surfaced – she was great at providing the love and companionship I sought from her as an adult, without judging or criticizing (except for the occasional raised eyebrow, and we all know what that means).
I also realized (DUH) that since I still needed her (although she’s been gone for almost 23 years), my kids probably still needed me. Just to be there, to watch them, to give the occasional bit of input when asked, but mostly to let them know how damn proud we are of them.
So no I’m not needed for carpool, school projects, and to resolve tiffs with their friends, but I am pretty sure that as a parent, my job is never going to be done. And for that, I still thank God every single day.