This blog originally started as a fashion blog and over time as that business left my life, I realized what I really wanted to do was write a lifestyle blog. But then I realized my life didn’t have much style. Then after careful thinking, I discovered I am in strange phase in life. One that not many people write about. You can find a zillion and one blogs about young toddlers but how many do you find about raising young adults. Not many. And that’s the phase I’m in. While I still have a five year old at home, I also am dealing with young men discovering their love lives, moving out, college, changing jobs, buying cars, and missing flights. This is a very lonely phase. One that I actually wasn’t prepared for. I always thought having the four older boys in less than seven years was hard, but turns out that letting go and letting them discover their own lives is a million times harder.
I’ve had my fair share.
I’ve had my fair share of teething, potty training, talking back, missing school work, tantrums at eight still, hiding food, and all the other wonderful frustrations that come along with raising kids. There were countless conversations with moms at park days about the latest quirk that kid A, B, or C was doing. Books were read by the dozens on how to get kids to sleep through the night, or how to get them to eat, or how to obey. All those firsts that you think you will have made it through as your child grows up, and not once did anyone ever tell me to brace myself for young adulthood. Maybe it’s because I’m the one of my friends I grew up with that has all the older kids. Maybe it’s because I only flocked to other moms that had kids the same age as mine at that time. What I’m here to share with you though is that exactly like having a newborn, nothing, and I mean nothing can prepare you for raising young adults in todays society.
Realizing they aren’t me.
My oldest turned 22 a few days ago. Each year as my kids get older, I compare their age to where I was in life. All I could think of the other day was, how at 22 I had two kids and my second was already turning a year old. I had been married for 3 years and I had just purchased my first home. My son lives at home with me still, works a part time job, his fourth job this year, and only pays for his cell phone bill. Granted he is high functioning autistic and we can save that story for another day. However, at 22, I had way more responsibility and could function through life without my parents taking care of me.
My second son is 20. He is a very timid personality. In January, he got a job and more than excels at this job. The owner offered him up a shift supervisor position to which he politely declined stating that “he wasn’t a leader”. It comes with a raise and the responsibility of making sure 15 year olds do their job at work. Really no different than what I would ask him to do here at home, but still, he declined. I shook my head when I found all this out. I am slightly disappointed on one hand, and on the other I know it’s who he is. He is a perfectionist by all definitions and doesn’t like to do anything if he thinks he could possibly fail at it. I respect that about him because when he finally does it, he does it well. But getting him to get to the point of just taking a risk in life, knowing that the world won’t end if he does fail is like getting a cat to take a bath. Not fun for anyone.
Going to California
The older boys’ dad and I are divorced. A few weeks ago my second son, asked me if I was alright with him going to California to visit his dad and other family. The people pleaser that he is, felt he needed to get permission from me. Of course I have no problem with it, but something else caught me off guard. He wanted to go somewhere alone. For him, this was a big deal. I saw it as him expressing his desire to do things that young adults do. No, it wasn’t Europe, but for him to get on a flight to California by himself to go visit family was a huge stepping stone in my eyes. I encourage my kids to do things like this, but with him, actually getting him to fly the nest has always been much harder than it should be.
As that day drew closer, I had questioned him a few times about his flight and if he needed anything. I asked him if he got the right size carry on down from the garage shelf. Just checked in on the little things for him. He actually told me he was going to work in the morning since his flight wasn’t until late at night. Then yesterday when I saw him at work, I asked him about it again and he told me had already reached his hours he could work for the week so he wouldn’t be coming in. He asked me the night before to print off his boarding pass. I told him I would get to it in the morning, as my day was long and I was still working on getting items put up in my shop online.
It said A.M.
That morning, as I lay on the couch waiting for everyone to wake up, he came downstairs and we had another conversation about his flight that night. The little kids woke up and I started my day with them. Breakfast, getting upstairs to do our school work, checking on some orders and whatever else the morning entailed. Around ten a.m, he came to me and asked me if I had printed off the ticket. I responded that I would do it in just a few minutes as I was finishing up some stuff with the kids for school. To his defense, I don’t like anyone using my printer without me. It’s a very tricky one and will go haywire if you choose the wrong settings. So I finished up what I was doing and I went downstairs to my computer. I pulled up his email with the flight info and did a huge double take. Hollering for him, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing on the screen. 11:10 a.m. flight. I asked him over and over if he knew that his flight was leaving in 40 minutes and he kept saying, it said p.m. No son, it did not. It said a.m. With both of us still in sweats with no shower, him not packed and the fact that we live 30 minutes from the airport, I knew there was no way he was going to make his flight.
Tough Love Face
The next hour or so was spent on the phone texting my ex-husband about what to do and how we could fix this. I will spare you the details. But what I want to share is that while my son was upset to the point that his sensitive soul was visibly shaking and crying, I had to put on the tough love face. I could feel the same sickening pit in my stomach that I knew he felt. That one between your heart and your gut. That feeling that feels like your insides will swallow you whole. All because you know you just not only messed up, but that someone else’s plans just got changed because of you as well. It’s not a good feeling. Being that he is so sensitive, I really tried to keep my entire tone upbeat and positive. But I had to give him “a talk”. A talk about how at twenty years old, he isn’t a baby. That this is a hard life lesson to learn and how being human and making mistakes is normal. That from here on out he will double, triple and quadruple check his flight information every day leading up to that flight. Mistakes happen and while he needed me to print off that boarding pass, it was ultimately his responsibility to check on that flight.
A letting go moment
Why am I writing this? Because this is the part that maybe helps me. Bringing attention to the fact that as a parent of all these young adults, I am back to that lost new mom feeling. My kids are older and are just really starting to make these big mistakes. I know it is in my best interest to let them. While we didn’t mean to have him miss his flight, this was a letting go moment for me. I had to choose between coddling my son and teaching him why it’s so important for him to take responsibility for something so important to him. I have to remember that at his age, I was pregnant with him! I’m sure I made many mistakes and learned the hard way, but it is so incredibly important to let him make mistakes too and learn from them.
It’s very lonely here.
My blog is now a lifestyle blog. I write about recipes, crafts, sewing, and homeschooling, but a huge part of my blog is eventually going to be about this new phase in my life. This phase that puts me back at being a lost mom not knowing what I’m doing or if I’m doing it right. It’s very lonely here. I’m not sure most days when to still hold on and when to let go. I’m not sure how involved I should be, and when I should back off. I don’t know when it’s ok to make them start paying rent. Do they need to follow the rules in my house like the younger kids do? Is it okay for them to leave without telling me? Do I still make dinner for them too? All of these questions and many more are daily issues and occurrences living with kids I raised but are old enough to vote, live on their own and hell, get married if they want to. I’ve walked around all day feeling terribly guilty that I didn’t pull up his boarding information sooner. And then I stop myself and remind myself exactly what I told my son. The world didn’t come to an end. Nobody died. It was a missed flight. Lesson learned.
I want to share so much more of some of the things I am going through with raising young adults. The issues though are also very, very personal most of the time. I think in my own time, these stories will come to fruition, so that maybe one day, someone reads this and knows that there are many moms out there that have also gone through this phase and made it out alive. Many days I’m left feeling like I’m not cut out for this. I can handle my five year old throwing a tantrum. Been there done that five times before him. A kid telling me he’s gay. Nope, that’s new territory. A kid moving out, nope all new territory. A kid telling me he isn’t going to college and wants to just backpack all over Europe after he graduates. Nope, all new to me. Finding out one is vaping, no clue how to handle that one either.
When parents of young children post on Facebook or share funny memes about how their day went with their toddlers, everyone laughs and shares in the moment because we all know it goes by so fast. But so often, when we go through things with our older children we are left just as depleted if not more so. The decisions and choices they make and we as parents make with them or sometimes for them are even bigger. These decisions typically come with lifelong consequences or rewards. The situation at hand is always a big one. As parents, we are left mentally, sometimes physically, emotionally and beyond spiritually exhausted. Then comes the shame. We are embarrassed to reach out or share about these issues for fear of being judged by others. Because if our teens or young adults are making decisions like this then we must have done something wrong in raising them, right?
We didn’t raise them wrong
I want to use this blog as a platform to say that no we didn’t raise them wrong. We did everything we could as good parents to raise them right. There comes a point though that these “kids” have to learn to take responsibility for their actions. As a good parent, its my job to let go and let them go through those hard lessons in life. Yes it was just a missed flight. Next time it might be something bigger. Maybe though, just maybe, he will learn something from this moment. And maybe, just maybe someone out there will read this and not feel do defeated today. Be easy on yourself today if you are a parent of teens or a young adult. You know you’ve done all the right things. You didn’t fail your child because they messed up. Life is tough and it certainly is not going to get any easier the older our kids get. Remind your child you love them today. Because if anything, they need to know we are here. We are letting go, but we are here. I don’t think there’s anything harder that I’ve ever had to do.