My son is getting married. And how does that not just throw a momma into a heart and mind maelstrom at some level? The other day, I watched him write a deposit check for the venue. Something about seeing him at the table with his writing posture which I’ve seen so many times as his homeschool momma, just really created a reality in my heart that my son, my first child, my little man, my Rottweiler-like-protector-of-momma and my not-so-little-anymore- buddy is setting sail on a new course. I knew, in that moment, that it would create words in my brain and heart that would have to get out.
Before you think I’m the least bit sad, I will assure you that I think this Momma is handling it better than I ever expected I would. Not only do I love her — his most amazing wife-to-be — but if there were EVER two people on this planet meant to be together, these two pieces of the puzzle fit miraculously well. I’m tempted to tell you their whole story, but alas, it is not mine to tell. Let’s just say that this is one of those miracle stories I’m always referring to. Only God can orchestrate this kind of thing so incredibly well.
Having adult children is HARD, friends. It is both the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen, and it is literally the hardest thing you’ve ever done. This is definitely a thing not many folks talk about, but I’m seeing it play out amongst all my friends whose kids are now mostly in their twenties and finding their way in the world. Daughter or son, they are grown adults and regardless of their life choices we have two choices: we decide we can’t sign up for their ideas and intentionally or not, distance ourselves with our words and opinions, or we decide to shut our pie-holes and take a front-row seat. The seat at the front is as tough as it gets. Harder than this year’s first presidential debate to watch, we began practicing for this viewing when they were little and touching stoves against our advice. Then, as teenagers, we realized much would be out of our control the first time they drove off with that fresh license! I think that’s what makes being parents of teenagers so hard! It’s about us learning to separate ourselves and find a new place in the world of our not-so-littles who once thought we hung the moon!
And those things were our training grounds for when they would make the really big choices like, spouses and careers and children and where they’d live! Successfully parenting, is, after all, teaching little people how to become good, big people someday. It’s not supposed to be all about us.
Our opinion must sit on shelves unless asked to be taken down and appreciated. Our stories are old news. Our feelings have little to no relevance. And this is all how it’s supposed to be.
Swallow that truth.
No wonder we get all wrinkly and lose the very color of our hair. This crap is HARD!
There’s something about this stage of life when you are forced to face yourself, having blazed through an entire stage of life which also happens to be the most pivotal years of your children’s existence and the stark reality is in the questioning — was it enough? Did I squeeze in all the things? Did my failures outweigh the things I felt like I did well? And you start to hear their stories — your performance reflected through their experience. Wow. Heavy stuff! No wonder the phrase Mid-Life Crisis is a thing! :o)
And then, while we’re learning how to adjust and find our new position, ideally, God sends in grandbabies. And we decide it’s worth soldiering on. Because to them, we can do no wrong! We have a do-over, sans problems and issues and punishment and responsibility and hard things. We can give them gummy bears and we become heroes. We can take them out for ice cream and feel, for a moment, that we are successful at something important. We can get a random snuggle or giggle or thank you and sigh away the struggles. Our stories are new again — and hilarious. Tiny, adorable humans not only want to be with us, they draw pictures of us in which we are always smiling and the sun is shining and there are always rainbows. Life is good here.
I have to add that I have the best grown children. They are the most thoughtful people I have ever encountered. They text me every day, and consider us in more ways than I ever dreamed my children would. They say the most beautiful things to their dad and to me, and I can feel things circling back around in life’s grand circle of loving and love returning. It’s remarkable, really. We must’ve done something right.
This is not about them making life hard for us at all. I just want those of us in this place in life to realize that there is camaraderie. That we stand on common ground in a new reality. To challenge each other to bite our tongues when we should. To celebrate having made it thus far. To find the joy in this new stage, this new place. To remember that we still have purpose now that the babies are done being just that.
How about you? Have you already walked this tightrope? What advice do you have for those of us still in the adjusting? Or is it on your horizon? I think we could all use some support in this, and I’m grateful for yours.