Raising Adult Children?

In the first flush of parenthood, it’s hard to imagine that the helpless newborn cradled in your arms will someday be an adult.

Babies need help with everything. They can’t eat, sleep or clean themselves. They would not survive without you.

Toddlers need constant supervision. They have no concept of what’s safe and what isn’t. Preschoolers need guidance, even grade-schoolers require parental input. Middle-and -high-schoolers won’t admit it, but they also need assistance. Kind of like the gutter guards used by novice bowlers to successfully get a strike.

And then..the day comes with your child becomes a self-supporting adult and leaves home to live on his or her own.

This is the day you’ve been cheering them on towards. The day when you are officially no longer in charge.

But this hard stop isn’t easy. You still have so much good advice; after all, you’re older and you’ve experienced more. Sometimes, it can feel like you’ve just been fired from the greatest. most fulfilling and intense job in the world. And you weren’t ready to leave that job just yet!! You’re not even close to retirement!!

And truthfully, sometimes you just can’t help it. The advice leaks out. Obviously only with the best of intentions. You simply want your kid to succeed..I mean…your adult child.

And there it is, what I believe is the root of the challenge. This oxymoron of a mouthful: adult child.

It’s easy to think of your offspring as your children. Because they are and have been for as long as you’ve known them. Webster defines a child as: an offspring of human parents; a descendant; a young person, usually one between infancy and youth. It’s the last definition that trips us up. Maybe the truth is we’re struggling with the definition of adult: a fully developed animal; pertaining to mature life. Maybe we need to just take a breath and let go.

A new word to describe our familial relationships could help us in that process. We could simply say our sons and daughters when talking about our offspring. But our friends don’t ask: How are your sons and daughters? They want to know about our kids, our children, our adult children!

Stop me before I get into trouble with my own adult daughters!

I’ll let you know when and if I get this all figured out. In the meantime, I’m giving my dog lots of advice even though he’s technically not my offspring. At least I know better than to advise my husband.

Waiting

I don’t do well with waiting. But I’ve come to realize that most of my life is spent waiting.

Waiting for something to happen, waiting for a call, waiting for a job opportunity, waiting for the doctor/dentist, waiting in line, waiting…

“I’ll be happy or at peace or relieved when (…) happens.” How many times have you heard someone say this? How many times have you thought this?

We roll our carts up and down the grocery store aisles, filling our baskets with food, feeling productive. Then, we head to the check-out only to discover a long line where we will be kept waiting our turn.

We travel to work or an appointment and traffic slows us down and makes us spend more time than we’d like in the waiting. The uncomfortable in-between of our homes and our destination. 

Nowadays, we often look at our phones while we’re waiting. Checking email. Reading the news. Catching up on any number of social media platforms,so all this time waiting feels like productive time. 

And maybe that’s the challenge of waiting.

It’s a space filled with perceived nothingness. 

Webster’s defines waiting as: to stay in expectation, as of an anticipated action or event; to be or remain in readiness; to remain temporarily neglected or undone. 

I was inspired to write this poem after watching surfers one day. 

The Next Wave

Another dawn

And I’m sitting atop the sandstone bluffs again

Watching the ocean rise and fall

Like someone breathing.

A surfer launches from the beach below paddling

in search of the next wave.

Reaching where the last swell crested

he straddles his board and waits on

the ocean’s heaving chest.

But no waves are in sight, just the sun

shimmering gold on the water’s blank surface.

How I wish 

something new would happen and either

sweep me to shore in a heart pounding rush

or knock me flying and tumbling in a swirl of water.

I think anything’s better

than the waiting. 

Is it possible to be happy, at peace, relieved while we’re waiting? I don’t know. But it’s a question I’m going to ask myself the next time I’m waiting. I know I won’t be waiting long for that opportunity.