Parenting an Adult: Is There Any Bigger Challenge?

I think I’ve determined that the hardest thing in the world is parenting adult and/or nearly adult children. When you have tiny babies, you feel that life will be better when you can actually SLEEP again, then it will be better when they are potty trained, then when you send them to school (although you are probably all teary-eyed and sad) — at least you feel that you will have some time to call your own again. Then, you think once the puberty drama is over, life will calm down. Later, you think it will be better when they begin their own lives. You think the stress and the worry will lift.

You would be wrong…I visited my son this weekend in Georgia. He’s just completed basic training and he’s on crutches with injuries that may heal and may not. He’s also had the flu for the last couple of weeks and I had to return him to base with a fever of 103.6 and rising. We got his fever down for a few hours, but it was back on the upswing during the trip back to base. He was pale, thin, in pain whenever he moved and he was feverish and exhausted. I think sending him back, stopping the car to let him return on his crutches to the next phase of training was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

Yes, he made this decision. Yes, he needs to stick with the decisions he’s made. He needs to be mature and deal with the consequences of his actions. He needs to finish up training, serve his time and then get out. But what I wanted to do most of all was wrap him in a blanket (he was shivering with chills because of the fever) and take him home rather than taking the blanket from his shoulders and handing him his ruck-sack and hugging him before watching him hobble toward the barracks.

He was miserable, but he was determined and I am proud of him. He is doing what needs to be done, but I really wish this had not been the path that he had chosen. Now that he has chosen it, I hope he can weather it out. Because of his injuries, he will be on medical leave (still on base) for 30 days and then will have to drop back several weeks in his training and try it again — or he may be released. And I don’t know which would be worse for him. I don’t even know what to hope for.

When he was little, I had the answers. Or, at least I thought I had the answers. Now, I’m just clueless. Now, I just hurt to watch him hurt.

My youngest son (at the ripe old age of 16) was diagnosed with kidney stones last week. To witness his pain has been the most helpless I’ve felt in years. To be unable to make the pain stop, or even make it ease up — has been nearly more than I could take. You know, in the movies, you see the person saying… “If I could take this pain FOR you, I would” — but it seems like melodrama. When your babies are little, you expect to feel that way – to want to take the pain away. When they are towering over you — stronger and bigger than you are, it comes as a surprise how maternal you feel, how their pain kicks you on the inside. How you would do ANYTHING to take the pain for them.

The youngest (my daughter) has had pneumonia and I’m just glad that she seems to be healing up, because I don’t think I could bear having all three of my children in such terrible straits at once. My eldest is in constant pain — but not extreme all the time. My youngest son seems fine in between attacks, but is in excruciating pain for several hours solid when he’s having an attack — then it’s like nothing happened (except he sleeps from the exhaustion of the pain and the nausea).

I remember hurting for them when I could hold them in arms and they were sick or hurt. I remember feeling like a failure as a mother when I couldn’t make it all better. But back then, I had magic kisses. Back then, simply kissing the “boo-boo” had a very real effect. Now, there’s nothing I can do. I hate this. I’ve never felt so helpless in my life — and I’ve never felt that my help was more needed. Parenting an adult (or nearly adult) child — sucks. You still feel all the pain that you did when they were little, maybe even more — but there’s NOTHING you can do. Nothing. Except stand by, watch, tell them that you love them, and hope this phase passes for them soon.