There is lots of adult-ing going on in my world. My kids are moving forward in a rush. Graduate school is ending, relationships are solidifying, wedding bells are ringing, and there is a baby on the way. There will be a whirl of milestones as we move through the next couple of years.
Keith and I are hanging on tight as kids become adults in their own right, not only based on their ages, but also on their level of responsibility. The one in the white dress said, “I don’t feel old enough for this.” The one making her way in the city often expresses the same thought. “When will I feel like an adult?” They all express the sentiment, sometimes in words, as often in actions. They live lives of solid responsibility which awkwardly connect to the desire to run away and play video games and ask mom what’s for dinner. But then again, so do I.
I am proud of the way they ask for and receive help. I like the ways they connect to a network of people who love them and support them in their lives. Their relationship to me is no longer one way, as they are as likely to help me see something new or change my perspective as I am to influence theirs. They are finding the courage to be both strong and weak. For far too long, I thought I had to always be strong, always have it figured out, always make my own way. They seem to be finding a nice balance in this area.
A friend who’s kids are not too much younger than Keith and I recently said that when the kids (and their kids) come home, they drop their packs. Something about Mom and Dad’s house allows us to revert back to another time. I am learning that the one curled up on the sofa eating ice cream from the container is navigating a complex world that would send me screaming in the other direction. They tend to linger around when they have something on their mind, want to chat, or bounce ideas. Facing the world, in all its complexity, is scary and overwhelming at times. It’s good to have a soft place to land. I’m glad that sometimes it’s at my house.
It’s also good for me to remember this is not all that is true in their lives. I love that they call when they need help, perspective, or a compassionate ear. They share, unload, regroup, and move one. I get myself into trouble when I begin to shape my image of them by these moments of vulnerability. Who they are in the safety of this relationship is not all that they are. They are strong, capable, and responsible. They are finding their way, they are moving forward along good paths. They have good days and bad, but overall, they are managing life quite well. Sometimes I need to keep this in perspective.
The road to adulthood seems to be longer and more twisty than I thought it would be. When I navigated that road, I thought it was just my bad decisions that made it both steep and bumpy. While some of that was true, I think the road is difficult no matter what. Once, I believed I could help my children avoid all of the pitfalls I faced, by coaching them through the “right” path. Now, I think that we all walk the path before us and face the obstacles and benefits along the way. There are lots of ways to adulthood, none of them are easy.