I’m not an attached parent. Those of you that have been reading for any length of time know that I’m not. I’m also not a free-range parent either.
I’m a parent. A great one.
I didn’t even shed a tear at my oldest son’s high school graduation because I was too busy celebrating this huge milestone that I felt like was as much mine as it was his. I parented my kid through high school! There is nothing sad about that. Because that shit? Is tough.
To my older boys, I am a young mom. I had my oldest when I was 18, when I still had baby fat myself (from my own self). LOL
And my next son was born 20 months later. (And then 7 years came Jonesie.)
- I teach my kids the life lessons that they will need to know.
- I give them boundaries.
- And I give them just enough rope to find out what trouble is.
- I expect my kids to respect other people and other people’s things.
- I don’t give them everything they want. THEY pay for what they want.
- I’ve taught them about saving money.
- I have wanted more for them than they will EVER want for themselves.
- I parent them honestly. Transparently.
- I have high expectations of them.
- I have set my dreams aside to support them through theirs.
Well, my dear lovies, while many of my friends are just giving birth for the first time, changing diapers, chasing toddlers, and playing Santa and tooth fairy for the first time ever, my ‘baby’ is moving out.
He is spreading his wings and leaving the nest. It is a bittersweet lesson in life.
One that is as much mine as it is his.
I’m sad. I’m excited. I’m proud.
I have cared and cried over this child for more than 18 years. He was the first child to bring me joy. I have worried that he is brushing his teeth. I have worried that he is eating enough. I have worried that he is confident enough. There was a time where I worried he would never make it through high school (as did his counselor). I have worried that he watches too much tv. And so it goes…
So, now that we’re here, you know that place where he flies on his own, pays his own bills and feeds his own mouth, I am genuinely excited for him. But, I worry.
It’s a different kind of worry though.
I worry that I have done everything I can do, that I have taught him every lesson that he will need to learn. I worry that I have been enough.
I think my parenting style is dictated by my life. I’ve lived through some very difficult times, fought very difficult battles, and I do not want my children to ever befriend that kind of pain.
My children have watched me stare adversity in the face and plow right through. I hope I have given them the ability to do so in their life because ooh-wee there is some record amounts of adversity in this world today. I hope they can plow through it too, even if they fall down. I hope they stand up and try again.
So, while it is tough for me to let him spread his wings, I believe that my JOB here is done. Now, I get to enjoy this child of mine. Not that I don’t enjoy him, I just don’t enjoy reminding him to take out the trash, to clean his room, to brush his teeth, to put his dish in the dishwasher. And I get to enjoy him!
And to be totally honest, the thing I’m *really* worried about when the hell I became old enough to have a child that is old enough to move out!? Because just yesterday (literally yesterday) I was told I look like I’m still in my 20′s. And, hush. It was not a pick up line!
Update: I have to share this post that a friend of mine posted on his own fb page today… I totally shed more than a tear.
When we moved to Colorado, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We reached out to Adam and Jennifer for guidance. They have been excellent councilors over the past 6 years. One of the people they introduced us to is Jill Bender. She’s a single mother of 3, and a close friend to Jennifer. She became someone we could trust, and I have asked for her help more than a few times. We don’t get to see her very often since we moved to the other side of Denver, but I follow her blog, Single Mom on a Budget. She does some amazing things, and has raised her 3 boys to be amazing people. Her eldest son is leaving the nest soon, and I shed a few tears reading her thoughts on the subject. Her children are well mannered, and show kindness and to all they meet. Her two oldest have helped me move a house, and her youngest has kept my daughter occupied when he could have instead played with kids closer to his own age. If they were my own, I wouldn’t be able to say a bad word about any of them.
My wife will tell you I’m a well intentioned father, who occasionally makes mistakes with our kids and then dwells on how I could have done a better job or used better words to express myself to our children if I had just used a bit more patience. My wife has that ability, and so does Jill. Jill, I know that this isn’t the easiest of weeks for you, but I hope you know that you and your children have made an impact on my own family in your actions and sacrifices.