I woke this morning, the day after Paul’s 20th Birthday and realized that I am NOT the parent of a teenager for the first time in 16 years! I have been parenting a teen for 16 years and yet, at times, I feel unqualified for the position. Everyone who raises a child gets to train during the teens for 7 years, but the way my children are spaced, I’ve been in the teen years over twice as long and still feel like a rookie!
This discovery has given me something to ponder. I have three children out of the nest and I find them to be awesome, productive adults. They are people that are very interesting and quite honestly, I don’t think they’d run in the same adult circles as me so I wouldn’t have ever met them if they wouldn’t have been my children. They are my children, but they are their own selves. I am amazed over who they have become. Actually, I’d like to take credit for some of it and maybe I do at times, but I remember one time thinking that if I take credit for their accomplishments, I have to take credit for their stupid mistakes too and who wants to do that?! I mean, I have enough of my own stupid mistakes, I’m really not interested in taking on anyone else’s! So, my adult children became responsible adults and I’m not claiming that my mothering had anything to do with it.
My nest isn’t empty. I still have a 20-year old who struggles in a different way and I’m still trying to teach, influence and mother him. AND, I still have a preteen to worry about. This morning, my mind was full of insecurity. Am I involved enough with my 7th grader, who her friends are, what activities she should participate in, etc.? Is she getting enough of my time and attention? Then I realized that those adult children of mine had a mother who was often distracted by younger children as we fostered over 40 kids during their teen years. I may have missed out on some of their events and I may have disappointed them at times, but quite honestly, I think that they are grateful that I didn’t have time to be overly involved in their relationships, homework, and other teen drama.
I think I will give this guilt I have a positive spin. I’m not going to feel guilty about not knowing everything about my 12-year-old’s life and I am going to trust her to make her own friends and even some of her own decisions. I’m taking these seven months of not having a teenager off and I’m going to see how much today’s problems matter then. I’m betting not much.
Note: This blog was written months ago. I am currently back in the trenches with a teen and rarely have time to ponder it!