“When they’re little they sit on your lap; when they’re big they sit on your heart.”
Now that my children are grown, (I have five), I can say without a doubt that this is way harder than having little kids. When my children were growing up, I made my way through working days, late dinner hours, extreme messes, nail-biting, softball and baseball games, Daisies and Girl Scouts, thunder storms, rain & hail storms, and hurricanes. During all those years I kept thinking in the back of my head: once my children grow up, my work will be done. But actually I find that, having little kids was a breeze. As long as you hugged them, made yummy foods for them, played games with them, read them stories, and allowed play dates with their friends things seemed to be, for the most part, O.K. You could fix most of their problems, and distract them from others. Your home was mostly a haven from all that might be painful and difficult in the world beyond.
All of that changes when they grow up. They fall in love, they get their hearts broken, apply for jobs, leave or lose the jobs, choose new homes to rent, can’t pay the rent for those new homes. They drink, do drugs, they forge their way, all just outside of your helping reach, hanging with the wrong crowds. Then, when bad things happen, they need you like crazy, but you realize that the kind of help you’ve spent 36 years learning how to give is not very helpful during this time of their lives. You can’t fix their disappointments and pain. Instead you have to watch them make the big mistakes you want to protect them from. You have to walk away and let them make these mistakes even though your heart is breaking. Sometimes you have to use tough love. It is the worst thing to have to do. The pain is very real, and very deep for us and them. Tough love is hard and definitely the last resort.
I have been through some very tough past years myself and needed my mom, I lost my mother in 2004, my lil’ sister in 2008, and then my father in 2010. In July 2014 my oldest sister moved several states away, it broke my heart. I needed her more than anything to stay here with me. I cried and cried myself to sleep many nights. Then seven months later I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I wanted my big sister to be here by my side but I couldn’t let her know that. I felt like if she didn’t want to live here while I was well I had no reason to ask her to live here while I was sick. So I went on fighting the good fight.
My daughter broke up with the man she was with for eight years also in 2013, the man she loved, the father of my sweet grandsons and moved in with me. She brought the baby with her, the oldest was with his dad. We weren’t allowed to see him, it hurt deeply. My daughter was in such deep pain. A heartbreak no one can fix. She raised that boy from 3 years old to 11 years old. That was all she could do was cry, day and night, she just cried. I didn’t know how to help her, and I didn’t know how to handle my own nearly unbearable feeling of pain. I wanted to be by her side constantly, I wanted to hold her and tell her mommy would make it all better but I couldn’t. I wanted to go out and hurt those who had hurt her, and yet I wanted to get as far away as possible, just to avoid the pain, her pain was causing me. I missed my oldest grandson like crazy, my heart was broken.
During those difficult days, months, and years I kept telling people that I wasn’t cut out to be the parent of adult children. I felt my kids were facing disappointments and mistakes that I couldn’t help them solve and pain they were unlikely to outgrow. I had to let them live their life, fix their own problems and work their own magic. Being a parent to grown children is hard. I miss my babies a lot. So my advice? Enjoy yours while you can, before they grow up, childhood goes by way too fast! 😦 And most importantly train to be a Psychiatrist, you’ll need one!
Proverbs 22:6 (NLT) “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.”