My kids are nearly thirty years old.
Can you hear the screaming from their desks right now? "Not til May!" he cries. "Not for two more years," she yelps. NO! It cannot be.
I share their perplexity (have I just coined another new word?). Thirty years is a very long time. Decades begin to be counted. Humans are born who have never seen a land line, a pager, a world where the Red Sox never win the big one.
I knew my grandmothers for thirty some years; they were always old and I was always young. They gave advice. I listened dutifully. There was never a question about it - I was young, they were old.
I never thought to ask if they saw me as an adult. It never crossed my mind. I was always their little girl; Bubba called me tateleh til she died. Tateleh, little one, was how she saw me. Though I had her first great-grandchild, the only one she knew before she died, I was still her eldest grandbaby, her tateleh.
I'm having the same problem with my own kids right now. They are certainly living their lives as adults. They are working and loving and cooking and paying the bills. I don't check for tied shoelaces or missing buttons before they walk out the door in the morning. Little Cuter's winter coat had a defective zipper, causing her to step in and out of the garment rather than removing it gracefully from her shoulders. It wasn't my place to take it to the seamstress and have it repaired; it was hers to laugh at and deal with.
That is not to say that the fact of the broken zipper didn't eat at my soul.
That's the ongoing burden of parenthood, I suppose. I look at her womanly curves and see the mis-matched socks and uncombed curls of kindergarten. He's taller and stronger than I am, than I ever will be, and yet all I see is the toddler running Monday morning errands with me.
I don't want to turn back the clock. I am delighted that they've reached adulthood relatively unscathed, armed with the tools they need to face the world. They've forgiven me my parenting mistakes, they've acknowledged my failings and the fact that I did my best, they are moving on with their own lives..... and I cannot let go.
I feel as if I'm living a country music medley.
I'm working on letting them own their own problems. I can't fix them. I shouldn't fix them. I won't fix then.
I find myself intoning those phrases at stop lights. They may be living their own lives, but I still retain a part of them, under my heart, deep in my psyche, permanently embedded in my Worry Box. I won't act on my angst, but I won't let it fester, either. Growing up is hard work for the child; it's also a difficult task for the parent, I'm finding out.
When they were in college I could justify my intrusiveness, my obssessive need to know, my compulsion to fix things. We were paying the bills; we still owned a piece of the rock. Now, years later, I have no excuse.
You're only as happy as your unhappiest child defined my child-rearing years. I thought I'd have a new mantra by now. I was wrong.
Little Cuter bemoaned the fact that we won't be seeing her this holiday season. TBG doesn't want to travel to the cold when it's 80 and balmy here in Tucson. She and SIR have to work, making travel expensive and awkward. I'm stuck in the middle, loving them both but capable of being in only one place at a time. I don't want to disappoint my baby.... my married lady baby... my nearly thirty year old baby.... my little girl.
Life goes on. That's a good thing. I just wish I had been better prepared for the fact that I still see them as mine. I really thought I'd have had an easier time letting go.