Nobody prepares you for the pain.
No, not the pain of childbirth, the pain of parenting adults. When your little perfect baby has grown up with your love, wisdom, and becomes someone else… an adult.
I have 5.
Each one of them came into this world with a different backstory, but each were loved without restraint. Maybe I should have held back a little, but that’s not who I am. I love as fiercely as I can, and often feel the burn from it.
5 amazing young people have called our home theirs. And we can called them ours.
Nobody prepares you for that tough transition from them needing us, to us needing to be wanted by them. Each of them took a different path, each of them broke my heart when they left home or started pulling away.
I number them, I always called them my little ducks. And keeping my ducks in a row was often difficult. Especially in a house full of boys and one tough little girl.
Keeping them all in line… 5…4…3…2…1.
Get up for school. Pack your lunch. Don’t punch your brother. Go to school ( “Please stay in school all day, no leaving, no giving the teacher crap.”) Do your homework- turn it in tomorrow. Clean your room. Don’t roll your eyes. Don’t punch your brother. Do your chores. Walk the Dog. Don’t punch your brother. Help set the table. Don’t show your butt at the table. Be nice. Love one another. Don’t punch your brother. Take a shower. Brush your teeth. Go to bed. Stay in your bed. Don’t sneak out. STOP PUNCHING YOUR BROTHER!
Life as a mother changes when your children become adults.
You now have to be kind, but remain solid. No more reminding them to do simple chores, but still being firm about not punching anyone.
You now have the role of independent adult without children hanging on you, while still wresting with sleepless nights thinking about them not paying their bills on time or losing a job.
Recently one of my ducks has challenged us in the worst kinds of ways, drinking and drugs, bringing a random girl into our home and making us choose between keeping him in our life or letting him run off to who knows where with this train wreck. I didn’t sleep much for weeks.
No matter what I said, it appeared to him that I was trying to ruin or direct his life. No matter how gently I said something, I was insulting him or not treating him like an adult.
It was awful.
I needed to come to terms with letting this duck learn to fly solo.
Each of them has left the nest.. moved away, and yet still knew where home was. It was hard letting them go, each of them met me with teary goodbyes and promises to call weekly. But the difference was that they were ready, they had a plan, they knew where they were going. Except this last one.
He did that when he was little too. He was a “runner” whenever things went badly, he’d grab his favorite toys and shove them in a bag and run. He did that this time with a girl he barely knows and a pocket full of trouble.
Being a mother is full of sweet moments, tender hugs and runny noses. But the dark side of motherhood is standing up for yourself to the person that you have sworn to protect.
Don’t give up who you are. Even when your children demand it.
I’ve sat here for the last couple of weeks replaying every conversation I had with #3. Where did I lose my strength? What happened?
They don’t want you to be someone else. They want you to be true to who you are, even when they are being complete assholes. Because you are solid ground when everything else is drifting away.
When you forget who you are, so will they.
It is impossibly hard to stay strong when your children are screaming and calling you names. But you can’t lose sight of knowing when you have to be a parent to adults, they still act like brats sometimes.
Know when to walk away.
I sorted through the debris of his room after he and the girl decided they could no longer live under our roof. He left photos of our family in the middle of the trash he had collected. He took our cell phone and laptop and walked away into the nothing.. no goodbye, no looking back.
It was time for him to go.. to walk his own road.
I’m glad he chose it for himself, but it was hard to watch him self destruct. Just because you are a parent and love someone you don’t have to be subjected to the mental warfare. Sometimes it is best to just walk away.
It isn’t as much fun being a parent to a new-adult as it is to a new-born. But life isn’t always fun. I know this is part of my journey as much as it is theirs.