(By Debbie Johnson)
I gave birth to my son 17 years ago and daughter 14 years ago; I could never have guessed the range of emotions that were in store for me. I remember holding both of those precious newborns and feeling only wonder at the possibilities that little being had in store for them. I didn’t know enough to be overwhelmed at the responsibility in store for me. I remember the toddler years and the endless questions and explorations. I didn’t realize I was seeing their personalities emerge.
Next came the school age years; bringing adjustments for them as well as myself. The beginning of what would become the separation between them and me. They began to need me less to get drinks and snacks, but I then had to guide and counsel on how to handle themselves with teachers and peers while away from me. That separation didn’t seem painful. The first twinges were just around the corner as they entered the dreaded middle school years.
As my oldest entered 6th grade, I heard horrible stories about what they learned on the bus, and in the lunch room. Luckily, they handled most of what came their way with poise and courage. I’m afraid they handled it much better than I did. Poise eluded me many times giving way to fear and dread. The eye rolling and hair flipping were just signs of teen angst and discord.
High school has brought birds eye views of what seems will be the frame and structure of who my kids will be when they need me even less. They are like their momma and daddy in that they learn through their mistakes. They laugh at themselves and at us. Many times, they don’t want to be with us anymore. I’m sure that a psychologist far smarter than I am calls these phases “developmental stages”. I don’t know much about those. In my house, we just try to enjoy the phase we are in, we try to laugh some, we cry some, and try to learn at each crossroad.
I can see the next phase down the road. The one where they only come home for visits. As Scarlet is famous for saying” Tomorrow is another day”. I just can’t imagine when my daily family life changes little by little to be less busy, to cook for one fewer at a time. I hear they come around and want the parental advice a little more as they get older. That’s fine. I just wonder how my hubs and I will handle the adjustment..
I heard someone say once,” we aren’t raising kids or teenagers, we are raising people”. What a tremendous responsibility we took on all those years ago. What a tremendous honor God gave us to love, nurture, and teach his little ones. You see, these beautiful beings were His long before they were ours. We just have to do the best we can. What crossroads have you been through with your family? Do you have any advice for me? Please…?
Debbie lives and works in a suburb north of Atlanta. She enjoys her family, her dog Rascal, friends, volunteering, and reading. Debbie writes about her Southern upbringing, her parenting journey, the importance of girlfriends, menopause, and just about anything else that makes her laugh. You can read her work on HippieChickChronicles.com and EyeRollDiaries.com.