No maps, no guides, the final frontier of parenting…grown kids

When I was a much younger woman, nothing would piss me off faster than hearing some “older” person tell me ever so patiently that when I got older, I would get “it”. Whatever this mysterious “it” was.  It always felt patronizing to tell me that despite the fact that I was an adult, I wasn’t old enough. Funny thing is, now that I am older, many things that pissed me off as a younger adult, now make a lot of sense. Turns out those well-meaning adults, knew what they were talking about.

Lately I find myself chuckling privately when younger friends talks about their parents, because when I was a young woman, my own parents used to bug me. Why the hell was my dad always talking about me as if I were still 8 years old? I am a grown up, can’t he see that? The thing is your parents no matter how old you are and how many kids you have, will always see you through their parenting lens which means you are always 8 years old in their minds eye. It isn’t intentional, but the fact is kids grow up entirely too damn fast. One day we are wiping your asses, kissing your boo boos and providing the vocal backgrounds in floor games and then the next thing we know you are more than halfway through college and bringing your love interest home to meet us. Life is moving entirely too damn fast!

The past few days here in BGIM-land have marked the official end of an era, one that I have spent 21 years with and the ushering in of a new era and I am still just trying to catch my breath. My son, known here as college boy came home for Easter Break and brought his girlfriend home to meet me…dear ole Mom.

College boy and his girl

College boy and his girl

It was a great visit, but I admit in the quiet moments, I found myself in tears as I watched the two of them share their private jokes that couples have and watched the ease with which they operated together. This is the first time in 21 years, where I wasn’t financially responsible for my son. No trips to the store with dear ole Mom buying much needed items for the boy. Nope, thanks to the college boy’s recent tour, he financed the entire trip and even treated dear ole Mom.

My son is a man now, a man standing on his own two feet as he should and I am proud of him. Yet I find myself thinking more and more about the fact that as a society we expend a great deal of energy on our kids when they are younger but few speak about the days when our birds leave the nest. As a mother, what is my role with regards to my son? For the past 5 days, I was careful to mind my words and to be gracious, going so far to say that after 14 years, maybe it was time to finally kill our ritual sign off that started after he went to live with his dad. Maybe air kisses are no longer appropriate?

When you find yourself with an adult child, you know you still have a role but it’s murky. This is the part of the parenting road map filled with dead space and you just have to navigate it on faith that you are making the right choices. So if your parents say and do things that make you roll your eyes or make you want to scream…do me a favor. Cut them some slack.  Knowing how to relate to babies, toddlers and school-aged kids is almost easy because we have a ton of resources and guides to fall back on but once you cross that line into adulthood not just based on chronological age but by developmental markers, us parents are lost. Logically, we understand that you are adults but in our hearts and minds, you are still our precious babes.

One Response
  1. April 2, 2013

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