Sitting here, reflecting on my weekend over a cup of coffee in the Harrods cup my daughter brought back from her holiday sojourn to the continent. I’m not a huge collector, but the girls have gotten into a cute habit of bringing me one home after their travels. I’m obsessed with those cups. And her.
It is a rare thing when I get to have her mostly to myself. With 4
houligans children, 3 of them ‘grown’, the opportunity to spend quality time with them one-on-one gets a bit hard to arrange. Usually, if I’m with one, I’m with all four, and chaos can ensue, jeopardizing a harmonious visit. I’d like to say it’s all kitty cats and rainbows when we are all together, but with a lot of strong personalities, tensions can flare. Which I find ironic, at times, as they all live within 3 miles of each other, and voluntarily choose to spend lots and lots of time together. Having said that, they can reserve some really bad behavior when I’m the audience. This last Thanksgiving, I was privileged to hear 2 of them tell each other to ‘eff off,’ right in front of a new house guest, and just minutes before we were to sit down to a meal based upon giving thanks. Music to a mother’s ears!
Since I’ve been hyper aware of these dynamics, I’ve really tried to cull time together with each one. Nothing makes me happier than having them all with me, but I’ve learned this is not always best for them, or me. Having alone time with each kid gives me time to concentrate solely on them, hearing about their lives, and not what bugged the shizz out of them regarding the most recent incident with their sibling. Especially since I have a VERY strict ‘No Tattling Policy’ still in place after nearly 28 years of parenting. Ha.
Anyways, this lovely girl, closing in on her late 20s, recently spent the holidays in Europe, and I suffered through my first Christmas with out her. Prior to leaving, she promised to come spend a weekend with me upon her return. It was lovely. I got to cook for her, and just be with her. I often like to joke, that despite spending tons of time with them when they were younger, I would never have left them with a babysitter AT ALL, had I known I would miss them so much after they left home. Lol.
As my friends kids, and my kids are aging into this adult children bracket, we’ve all been discovering that it can be dicey deciding how you are going to move from being the parent in charge, to the parent that can finally be the friend. It truly is the converse of how I raised them with the philosophy of ‘I’m not your friend, I’m your parent,’ to something more akin to, ‘Friend first, parent second.’ It’s just odd. A lot of times, this includes me biting my tongue in freaking half in order to honor the adult they’ve become. I realize that to have issue with how they are living their lives, is to have issue with how I raised them. And to be honest, I raised really good kids with good heads on their shoulders. To treat them as anything less than capable at this stage, is to question how I parented them when it truly mattered. On a few occasions, I have waded into the muck of offering an opinion, only to be reminded they were not asking for my permission, but were merely telling me what they had planned. Point taken.
So, these are the days I dreamt about during those hard years of parenting, particularly the single parenting years. I revel in the just being together. I keep discovering it’s the simple things I enjoy doing with her: Going to a Pilates class, taking a walk, or just watching a movie or tv show (Check out Netflix’s Lovesick!). Chatting about her life and what her next goals are is as exciting as it can get for me. I also enjoy stuffing her like a veal before she goes home!
Also, as I’ve discovered, it continues to be my job to figure out what my adult life beyond raising kids is going to look like. I can not send them the message that I am laying in wait for them to come home and entertain me. I think this concept of living one’s own full life once the kids are gone can be particularly important when one is divorced. It is not, nor will not, be their job to create a life for me through their own lives. Any nervousness about what a post empty nest life will look like, is replaced by the excitement of what life after day to day parenting will entail. But, in the meantime, I still have a few years left to exercise my parenting skills!