Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Trust me when I say that growing pains aren't just for kids anymore. Parents have them, too.

It's hard to watch your little one spread her wings. I want her to fly, but I don't want to see her fall. I think watching her climb trees and run up the slide were easier than seeing her struggle in search of her future.

As this happens, I'm trying to find my place. When the kid was very young, my ex threatened to kidnap her. I know now that it was a scare tactic and he had no intention of doing that (it would have seriously cut into "his" time to care for a little one). At the time, however, the threat was enough to keep me vigilant, to make sure I watched my little one. My vigilance wasn't always toward her. I mean, I never worried about bumps and bruises acquired through being a kid. What was happening around her, who was in the shadows, those were the things I tried to be extra cautious about.

She doesn't need me for that any longer. Now a legal adult, she is supposed to watch those shadows for herself. Do I think she can do it? Probably. Does it still scare the bejezus outta me? Definitely.

But I'm trying. I'm trying to let her do her thing. But it's not easy. I remember the days when Mom's opinion was the most important. Now it's not. To be honest, that's a bit of a blow to the ego. To go from adviser to "butt out-ski" almost overnight. My biggest problem, I think, is that I like being the mom. I've always looked upon that as being my best job, the one that brought me the most satisfaction. And yes, I'm still the mom. I know that. But it's a different relationship now. One I'm trying to get a handle on and feeling like I'm failing miserably.

Don't get me wrong! I haven't spent the last two decades sitting in a rocker telling my kid what to do and not doing a thing for me. (Sorry, really lame Psycho reference.) I have other interests, other commitments, other adventures that don't depend on "mom-ness" but they were never my first priority. Now I'm trying to move them up. I'm focusing on my crafts: writing, knitting, spinning, sewing, painting. I'm making time for my organizations—specifically Eastern Star, Daughters of the Nile, and my local writers group. I'm scheduling activities for me: china painting, knit night, spin-in.

Most importantly, I'm communicating with hubby. As hard as this empty nest/growing pain thing is for me, I know it's hard on him, too. He "picked" this little girl to be his. He married a woman with a child, taking on that responsibility. He adopted her and became the dad when he didn't have to. As a married couple, we've never known a time when there wasn't a child around. I know we're both struggling.

As I grow into this new role, I can only hope I'm doing it right. Like the rest of parenting, there's no handbook for this, either. I will make some mistakes. Hubby will make some mistakes. I pray none of them are permanent ones or unfix-able ones. And that the kid will cut us a little slack as all three of us try to navigate this uncharted territory.

Anyone with suggestions, bring 'em on. It's nice to know that I'm not alone.

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