There is nothing that should be more calming than knowing that our children as young adults are becoming independent. Beyond hugs, diaper changing, and the invisible hand that aimed to ensure they would have more opportunities than we ever did, inevitably they will become teenagers. Never remembering the sleepless nights we endured, nor even care why we worry about them still today – they begin to see our unwelcome influence as an intrusion once they are free from the ownership of our parenthood. Being able to stand back and disconnect as the parent of a young adult is more difficult than spending everyday caring for them as babies.
Being alone as parents in a home that once was alive with the annoying vitality and mess of children is like remaining overnight in a movie theater once the film is done. Waiting for a sequel, hoping for news, wondering what’s going to happen next for months with nothing but dried out popcorn below the seats to emotionally sustain us.
I not only left home as a teenager, I left the country. I know that I only phoned home, wrote, or visited when I was sad and needy. Seeking reassurance, hoping to consolidate my emotions, feel a part of something that I needed to know remained behind me always, or simply needing a hot meal and a loan as I slept on the sofa for a weekend being the only compulsion.
The cruel reality of being a parent is an emotional trail our children will never understand until they, themselves are. When our children are happy and confident out there in the world, when they feel safe and full of a zest for life – we won’t hear from them. As we anxiously try to reach out, and try to and help and protect them, we are simply being annoying. They may take our money, but not our influence on their decisions, nor advice.
It is actually hearing from them and being needed that is the most worrying. Letting go of them is our problem, their ability to leave is our success.