Give Mom and Dad Their Cap and Gown, Too
"Having a teenage daughter is like having a cat that only comes out to eat and hisses at you when you try and be nice to it."
I saw this on a dish towel at a little gift shop. It cracked me up, because it perfectly sums up how my husband sees his relationship with our daughter. At least for now, during her teenage years at home. I suspect it's because they're too much alike, though neither may admit it.
Teenagers, especially girls, can be challenging. I know, because I was one, and I did more than my share of throwing up challenges. It's all part of the push-pull dance kids do with their parents as they assert their growing independence. It is what it is. Even when it's at its most frustrating.
What I'm really looking forward to is the next phase in our daughter's life. Seeing who she becomes as a young adult. The work she chooses for herself. Where she'll end up living, the new friendships she'll make ... maybe even a special someone, too? She may even come to us asking for ... *gasp!* ... advice. But the real fun will come when she discovers that mom was right about a few things all along.
Heh heh heh.
Managing the mercurial teenager. Yeah, right....
From the terrible twos to the trying teen years, parenting ain't easy. All we can do is remember that we ourselves were there once. Not that it helps all that much, except to give us perspective. Seems that parents deserve a graduation ceremony, too, once our youngest flies the nest.
Mom has to laugh when the chickens come home to roost
You know that time-old threat that parents toss out when a kid is being particularly difficult?
"May you have a child that is just like you."
Ha! I didn't even have to wait for her to have a baby of her own. No, karma zinged her a good one recently, when she landed a baby-sitting job with a baby and a toddler who were not going along with the program. Meaning, her program where she puts them to bed, they quietly go to sleep without a fuss, and they STAY THERE.
It's not that she exactly had the baby from hell, but she did have one that was clearly not happy with her parents' plans to go out and leave her behind. To say that she protested loudly is an understatement. Apparently, there was some crying involved. All evening. For hours. Apparently at the top of her lungs.
That advice about raising babies that I thought wouldn't be asked of me for quite a few more years? Turns out I didn't have to wait that long; my phone didn't stop ringing with pleas of "Mom, what do I do NOW?" and refrains of "That baby won't stop crying!" Being a good mom, I naturally empathized with her and offered my best advice. All of which came straight from my experience of having to deal with HER as a highly vocal, unhappy tyke. While I felt badly for her, I couldn't help relishing the music to my ears when she blurted, "I don't know how you did it."
Do you see me smirking? Of course, you do. Naturally, I took the opportunity to remind her that Mother's Day - the time to appreciate all your mother put up with to take care of you - is coming up. Now please excuse me while I try to wipe the smile off my face. (It's hard.)
We're judged by the company we keep
The time with our daughter, though, has truthfully been mostly wonderful. And I can see the quality of her character reflected in her choice of friends. If we are truly judged by the company we keep, then I don't think I have to worry about what sort of a human being I've raised.
During their senior year of high school, many of these kids were on edge. Would they get into the college of their dreams? Would they even get into ANY decent school? As admissions decisions rolled out over the months, these boys and girls banded together to celebrate each other's acceptances, console and support each other's disappointments, and cheer one another on throughout a very stressful time.
We love watching her interact with her friends. Just this weekend, a group of girls arranged a surprise decoration of our daughter's bedroom to celebrate her recent college decision. Two friends spirited her away while the others coordinated with me to come and fill her room with streamers and balloons in her new school's colors, accented with various chocolate goodies. (They know her well. Like her mom, my daughter is a proud, card-carrying chocoholic.) It was so heart-warming, seeing her surrounded by her smiling, cheering friends.
In a nutshell? You're a success if you've raised a person of good character.
Mom and Dad are graduating, too
Last week was the end of the school year for seniors, with only AP exams and graduation ceremonies ahead. It was a whirlwind week for the parents, too: A reunion of her elementary school classmates, all celebrating their next steps in life. Farewell events sponsored by her athletic team and theater group. A party that paid tribute to the graduating seniors, sponsored by the school. Games, events, and so much going on that it was hard to believe she still had to take a few exams and finish a project during all that hoopla.
But what a nice way to finish your high school experience. Especially since she's our last child, it felt like we, as parents, were graduating, too. From parents of school-age kids to empty-nesters. Which we are, even if it's rather strange to think that this stage of life is finally here.
Laura's Quick Tips
Enjoy your kids while you have them with you. Even the unpleasant bits.
You're a success if you've raised a person of good character.
Life moves quickly. Savor the memories and look forward to new adventures.
I've been asked what I'll be doing as an empty-nester. Retiring? Moving to Florida? Downsizing and traveling the country? Nope. I can't imagine myself retiring or picking up stakes and settling somewhere else. No reason to! I have plenty of interesting, creative stuff going on right now in my life, thank you very much: voice and film/TV acting. Coaching business folks on how to become more comfortable and effective on camera. Speaking to groups on a range of topics. And as an empty-nester, I'll have time to focus once more on myself. Something that was pretty much shelved while I was raising our kids.
As I see it, empty-nesterhood will be a time of greater creativity and the freedom to explore it all. Hey! Who wouldn't enjoy that! You can see what I've already started creating on my YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/3KlVoPd.