I was wondering why very few people broach the subject of being the parent of adult children. And then I realized it’s because unlike mommy blogs where their toddlers and even teens probably won’t be tuning in to the rants of their weary mommas, adult children will read the words, and they can’t possibly understand.
Of all of the momma-roads I’ve walked, this is by far the hardest. If you have adult children, you understand. It’s not a hard road I would ever trade or wish away; indeed, this is the WHY of having children in the first place! There is an exquisite pain that comes with having grown people in your life that you have known and connected with before you even saw their face that are now entirely separate entities and needing to be so in order to fulfill your purpose and theirs as well.
Being an adult child was an awkward, inevitable position. You went about your business in the world; tooling around, giving orders, being taken seriously, but there were still these two people lurking somewhere who in a split second could reduce you to nothing. In their presence, you were a big-headed baby again, crawling instead of walking.Meg Wolitzer
To me, it is the essence of the word irony. You need them. They need you. You can’t need them. They aren’t allowed to and don’t want to need you anymore. This balance, this tight-rope-walk, is a daily denying-of-self and a dedication to let go until asked to hold on tighter, and then quickly let go again. It’s a willingness to be invited in and then have the door shut in your face while you smile and blow kisses.
This is the pain-pleasure of having newly adult children; they’re innocent and ruthless in forgetting their sweet old dependence.Ian Mcewan
I think mommas deal with this more than dads. At least that is the truth at my house.
I am convinced it has something to do with the umbilical cord.
My husband plays this way more cool than I do. I’m sure I will be learning this dance until the day the day I leave this earth. After all, I birthed three of my best friends. And they’re stuck with me.
Stuck with me needing to know they are safe and ate enough protein and vegetables and will listen when I need to tell them a better way to save money or buy something that will improve their life or that they should text their sibling or when I find an very interesting opportunity that would be perfect for their unique talent or that I’m praying for them when I’m awake in the night pretending I’m not worried about their health and happiness.
I wiped their bottoms. I know things.
But at the end of every single day, I’ll have thought of them 853 million times and cared about things probably no one else does and maybe shed a tear or two for those burdens. At the same time, I’ll have smiled in my very heart many more times about the exceptional people they are — which was certainly was born of Someone much greater than this tired momma. I’ll accept that they are now seeing me as somewhat of a peer as they understand things more, seeing them from twenty-something viewpoints and relating with our humanity though we are their parents. I’ll humbly allow them to offer help to me more and more as the balance has shifted and the seesaw that is life and need has begun its tipping in a new direction. I’ll celebrate the joys and pretend better and better with practice that I don’t concern myself too much with their stuff. And they will learn how to communicate with us honestly, and us, them. After all, they are adults. And so are we. And we all just have to figure out how that fits together. Because really, it’s the best (hardest) thing ever.
Can you relate — either as an adult child or a parent of adult children? Please comment below and share…
Deborah Falkowski says
Sometimes you want to laugh and other times I’m in tears. Heart strings are hard to let go, let grow❤
Beautifully said, Debbie. Tears and laughter go hand in hand and it’s really good to have friends who understand. XXXOOO
I have a hard time adjusting the levels – what do they need from me today – it changes so quickly during this time. I’m learning that listening is always first – sometimes answering – sometimes questioning. It was so much easier when I knew better .
Yes, Anne. You’ve hit the nail on the head with the constant adjustments. Perhaps that is the hardest part. It was SO much easier when we had even a modicum of control of the situation. :o)
All so true! One of the most surprising things about having adult “children” is how much I still think about, worry about, and pray about those very independent (but sometimes still very much needing me) individuals. It’s something all of us are still working out together. How much is enough but not too much contact? Do they still need me as much I need them? I do love the role of being more their friend now–yet I still want to be their mom. I keep reminding myself that raising them to be independent adults was always the plan.
I’m so very thankful to know I’m not alone. Thank you for echoing my thoughts and supporting the truth of all of it with your candid feedback. “How much is enough but not too much contact?” YES!! I find that honest conversation about that helps, but it’s tricky nonetheless. Yes, we still long to remain the mom — it’s been my favorite role, after all. I appreciate your words today, Jody.
I totally get how you feel and know your thoughts❤️ The one thing I can absolutely assure you of is…. them being your best friends before, now takes on a whole new meaning that you will absolutely love and cherish. The true meaning of BFF❤️
Thank you for the encouragement, Aunt Chrissy. They most certainly are and have been. It’s a tricky dance and it sounds like it gets better with more and more practice. Love you.