Raising Kids… It Gets Easier When??

I was talking with a peer last week. She announced that she was going to be a grandmother this week. The c-section is scheduled due to some fairly serious complications. My prayers are with her and her daughter, and I’ve been thinking about it alot over the weekend.

First, I was shocked. After all, she’s MY age! And my eldest son (now 18) scared the crap outta me right before he joined the Army by getting “Ohhhh–Ahhh” face every time he saw an infant. He even eyed pregnant women with a new vision. It was terrifying.

He also said things like “Awwww, isn’t that sweet? I want one of those.” and similar undeniable signs that he’s all grown up and in the throes of baby fever. I shared this with my peer and she confessed that her own daughter was doing the same thing about a year ago — thus confirming my fears.

It’s kind of odd how much smarter you really DO get as you get older as a parent and we discussed this at length.

When your infant is in arms, you think (as a new parent), “Boy, it sure will be nice when the baby is potty trained and I don’t have to deal with diapers anymore.”

At that point you don’t realize that once they are potty trained, they are also mobile. And your life only becomes MORE complicated then. And, being the parent of a toddler you think… “Boy, it sure will be nice when they are up a little older and able to do a bit more for themselves, when they don’t rely on me for EVERYTHING. I could use a break.”

And your wish comes true. Your child starts school. And you realize, with horror, that they are now being influenced by forces you have no control over. They are being allowed to watch movies in school that you would never approve of at home, they have a whole new vocabulary — thanks to the kids at the “back” of the school bus — and your child’s teacher’s approach to basic learning skills is, well, just plain weird. So you think… “I’ll be glad when they get a little older and are less impressionable, when what I’ve taught isn’t constantly at odds with what they hear every day and they are old enough to make their own decisions — GOOD decisions — without undue influence.”

Then you get your wish. They are teenagers and they SHOULD be able to make their own good decisions. Of course then their entire world revolves around anyone and everyone but you, they get offered drugs at school, their friends are … well, obviously stupid individuals with less than stellar parents… and you are suddenly the enemy of their state. You are so out of it, so behind the times, so… well, stupid… that your advice means very little. And, the next day, they are like a child again, seeking your advice, your comfort, your help and your guidance — a fact they will deny and object to the following day.

And you think… “I’ll be so glad when this hormone fest ends and they become normal humans again, when they strike out on their own and do their own thing… and when I don’t feel personally responsible for every bad choice they make and that I’m not responsible at all for any good choices they make.”

Then they are out on their own. And you worry about them constantly. Whereas you only worried about them a dozen times a day when they were under your roof, now you worry about them at least twice as much. Because now, you not only don’t share their living space, you know you are not well informed about their lives. And what little you do know… scares the crap out of you… because you know it’s a “watered down” version of reality. You know it’s bad. It’s really bad. And you have absolutely no control, you can’t help, and if you lecture them or offer your advice, they quit calling you.

Parenting a young adult child sucks.

My peer assures me that parenting one expecting a child is even worse and my own parents giggle at me and say that if I think parenting MY kids is a challenge… just wait until they are MY age. I know that’s a slam, but I’m to scared to even fuss at them for it. I’m afraid that they are right.

When my little ones were little and “older” parents laughed and said these are the GOOD times, I thought they were crazy. I also thought they were evil. After all, I knew some people who liked to tell newly expectant mothers the most amazing horror stories about childbirth and delivery. I’ve always hated those people. And, I figured these were the same type of people, just later in life.

Now, I’m not so sure. Now, I think they may be right.

I have one son that’s in the Army now… so I worry about him constantly. I have one son at home that is a joy. And I’m hoping that it’s not just a lull in the excitement of parenting. And I have a daughter that’s still young enough that what I think matters… and I’m hoping that will last a bit longer — although I’m seeing indications that it’s going to be short-lived.

Right now, my children are well. Right now, they are safe and (mostly) well adjusted. Right now, I feel that I’ve not damaged the goods too much and that they just might survive having me as a parent. Of course, that could change in a heartbeat. That could change forever in a single second. And that is how I torture myself when things are going well.

As a parent… it’s kind of hard to win. I’m looking forward to becoming a grandparent… but I worry that it will be even tougher than being a parent has been… and will continue to be.