A couple days ago I posted the following conversation that happened in my kitchen:
“Coop’s home from school for the weekend. Walks in starts to make food just as As gets home from school. All standing in the kitchen As (14 yo) says: Momma can you hand me the butter?
Mind you – I am just passing through doing other things … and just as far from the fridge as he is.
Coop says: What the hell? Get it yourself, she doesn’t have to do everything! “
It got me thinking of all the reasons having older kids rocks. I am often wistful over their baby and toddler days, when for me, it was easier. Before the teenage years and adult worries barrelled in on us. Here’s my Top Ten Reasons Older Kids Rock
1) They have their own thoughts and ideas, and not just about what movie to watch and demanding we eat where they feel like it. I mean real thoughts, interesting ideas. They share pod casts with me I might like and talk about world events. Admittedly, my 20, 18 and 14 year old sons see things must differently in this world than I do, and at first I took that as a front to me and as a failure in raising them “right”. Until I realized they, like me, are a work in progress. Their ideas and thoughts will change as they grow and age, as their focus shifts from friends and fun to school and careers and ambition to families and children. It’s a beautiful thing to watch, a mind and spirit evolving.
2) They can get their own drink, spoon, fork, napkin, charger, blanket and I don’t have to feel guilty for not wanting to do it for them. And I can, when I feel like being generous, hand them a spoon across the counter.
3) They are largely in charge of their own shit. A missing baseball jersey isn’t my fault, or my responsibility. When they were six and we forgot snack for the t-ball game, that was on me. Forgot your shoes for gym? Not my fault. Now, that doesn’t mean their forgetting isn’t sometimes my emergency – like when we got to the airport last week and one of my kids realized he didn’t have his wallet. Or his ID. Luckily, I always stash passports in my bag for just that occasion. Not my fault, but I did get to be the heroine 😉
4) They ask me how my day is, sometimes they even randomly text me. For no reason.
5) Their Christmas shopping is not my problem. They can drive themselves, pay for it and wrap it up!
6) They can drive themselves to practice. And school. And their friends. And work outs. And their friends work outs. And their friends games. And their girlfriends house. And they can also pick up Aiden when I need them to.
7) I would not trade 45 to be 18 – 22 for anything. I know it’s not easy and it’s often uncomfortable. Watching them struggle is a struggle for me, but I am learning to let them own their own difficulties. My happiness can not hinge on their successes, that is far too heavy a weight for my son’s to bear. Second, there is no greater feeling of triumph in parenting than watching your children struggle through tough times and find success. The success may not look like what you want it to, but its theirs to own and yours together to celebrate.
8) He is independent enough that I don’t have to feel guilty when I make him breakfast, do his laundry, clean his room up before he comes home. He’s capable, and he doesn’t expect those things from me, I can just do them. To be nice. Because I want to.
9) Cooper was with us for this past weekend in Florida. We were talking about his 19 credit schedule (he’s nuts.) and his summer plans. The discussion rolled into what he needs to do for PT school and the hours of observation he needs and his research of PT schools over the country and …. I got instantaneously overwhelmed. Until I remembered I didn’t have to do any part of it. I didn’t have to arrange it, organize it, oversee it. We just have to pay for it. We just have to support, encourage and love him through it. I can so do that.
10) In the past three months I have began committing to doing things for myself (remember my Commitments Not Resolutions post?)
that don’t revolve around them. I see into the future, I see them spreading their wings and creating lives of their own and I desperately don’t want to be left holding an empty home and broken heart. They are noticing, noticing me writing daily, talking with me about my goals and plans. They aren’t jealous of my time spent on my goals, they aren’t clamoring for more of me. After a particularly uplifting email from my editor yesterday, I read it to Jacko. He swept in from behind picked me up and swung me around in a hug. “I’m so proud of you, Momma”. Wow. Just wow. What else is there? There will still be days I would trade that tired momma in the grocery store, but there is brilliance to be found in teenage minds and lives. So much brilliance.