I’m sitting here in a quiet little writing bubble, a calm but brief space in time I carved out for myself this morning. I realize there are still so many things going on around me, and this is no bubble at all. The world still turns, people are driving to work, news is being made. I’ve got a sleeping 3-year-old in the other room, and I’m being kicked in the ribs from the inside by an active growing baby.
There is also a gym full of Seniors going through a dress rehearsal for their graduation on Saturday. My daughter is in this group of Seniors.
For a few months now I have been a very live wire, on-edge, short-tempered, and impatient. Anger is my default emotion when my anxiety spikes, and I realized all of it wasn’t because I’m six months pregnant. Yes, that doesn’t help the situation any, but it isn’t the root cause of all of this tension and fear. I’ve not been able to put my finger on what my deal has been, exactly. That is until yesterday when I was briefly talking about my daughters plans after graduation and found myself unable to keep a dam of tears from breaking forth during an appointment. Mind you this was NOT during an appointment with my therapist and was all quite awkward.
Boom, just like that, I had my answer.
The past few years have been a big emotional, mental, and well… an overall complete lifestyle transition for me. My household went from only having a single 15-year-old child to the adding of a baby boy (now a toddler). All the routine family dynamics changed overnight, my marriage changed in the blink of an eye, and the roles we all had become comfortable in, transformed. I tried to learn how to balance the shifting in-between teenager mode and toddler mode, gracefully I mean, but let me say that it is some hard stuff to juggle. Both ages come with extreme challenges and are such diverse stages of life, it almost seems impossible to find any emotional or mental stability, let alone clarity.
These past eight months easily being the roughest ride. My elder child turned 18 and the “I’m an adult you can’t tell me what to do” independence bug has taken hold of her. She is so much like me, which can not only be frustrating as a parent but an annoying mirror of all of your own faults as a person. She inherited much of my stubbornness, opinionated sauciness, vocabulary, and all of those other many quirks that make the people’s lives around me so much brighter… (sarcasm).
Her birthday is in November so she is always the older of her classmates and also adds another onion layer to this 18-year-old stage. Yes, she is an adult but I am still trying to get her through high school and that crazy busy senior year. It is quite the endeavor trying to get her to do things around the house, bring up topics such as grades or attendance, or do the normal things that a kid is accountable for in a home. Due to her pulling out the adult card all the time. The struggle is real, my friends.
Now don’t get me wrong, I adore my daugher. She’s an insanely bright and a good kid all around. She’s also a late bloomer in a lot of aspects, which has been a benefit in the worry department for the old mom here. But for some parents, like my own (sorry guys), blessed with these smart and strong-willed kids that challenge us….well, it can be tough.
Let’s be honest here folks,18 is a dang rough stage in life for everyone involved, and it’s supposed to be. It is one of the biggest transitions in both the child’s life and the parent’s life. It is the shift out of childhood and the first year into true adulthood when the heavier of parental responsibilities begin to shift from the parent to the child. All completely normal, but it doesn’t always make for the calmest of houses. Add a pregnant mom into the mix and it’s a force of nature.
So for the sake of all involved, AKA “So Mom doesn’t lose her sh*t and end up in a hospital,” …
She has spent this last month of school having a vacation at her grandparents house. I should point out it has actually been great for her (I won’t lie, for me as well). She has gained more confidence and independence, but still from the safety of familiarity which is good for my head and heart. My parents don’t treat her like a parent which while annoying for me, seems to benefit her.
Does it sting she wants to be there instead of here? Sure, but I get it. She can feel more like an adult without mom reminding her of all the little daily things that need doing. While I assumed she would stumble and not be able to keep everything straight, she has proved me wrong mostly. We were in a dance that both of used got tired of tired of. For example, her not following through on things being asked of her or keeping up with responsibilities. Because she knew I would get fed up and do it, or fix it, etc. This caused resentment and animosity on both sides. Now she has a more solid after-plan, she’s going out more and wanting to be more social, and is even dating a guy. Basically, she is growing up.
So why then did I end up bawling my eyes out yesterday when things have been going okay?! I mean, I am gaining peace of mind with her being out of high school and the stress involved with that. You know, the grades, attendance, activities, early mornings, the fear of a school shootings.She’s becoming more responsible and accountable for the things she needs to be doing and that is what I had hoped for.
So why the break down?
Read over those last couple of paragraphs again…
I am scared… no… scratch that… I am terrified. There are things weighing heavily in my head and heart and that I’ve avoided looking at. It had nothing to do with dealing with a mouthy, grumpy 18-year-old trying my patience, and everything to do with her leaving my nest. All these questions, and fears, and tears broke wide open after I being asked what she planned on doing after high school.
Have I prepared her well enough?
She’s still so young and naïve, what if she gets hurt?
Can she handle herself with confidence if some guy gets too handsy?
Does she understand about not getting in cars with people under the influence?
Did she hear anything I told her?
Was I too honest?
Does she realize that I love her and will be here if she needs help?
In a few more months she will be the same age I was when I conceived her and that hits home. It has me questioning everything I have taught her, and all the things I didn’t even get to touch on over the years. We’ve always had a relationship where we talked about everything. I never felt the need to lie or try to avoid uncomfortable topics, but there is also so much that I am not sure I prepared her for.
But the truth of the matter is…
I am the one that is not prepared for any of this.
Sure.there won’t be an empty nest here for a long time. But my firstborn is flying away and I haven’t a clue what this world holds for her, and there is not anything I can do about any of it.
While she may very well be ready, I for one, damn sure are not.
Nobody prepares a parent for this part…