(NOTE: No kids? Still read on)
One 16 year old and a set of twins coming up fast on their 13th birthday: They want freedom, they earn some money and they don't want to be with me all the time. I'm on the back nine of my kids being kids.
I don't mean to imply that I only expect my kids to live until they are 18. (Or maybe it's me that might only live until then.) And it's not the years I'm counting as much as the transition from having children to having people I gave birth to. I'm in the middle of the painful realization that I will never be the center of their attention and love again. On the back nine, I'm forced to fade into a loving and distant presence that really has no right to demand attention and time.
Being a parent in the teen years is most often thankless. I run a hotel for transient youth. Food gets made, sheets get washed and social, educational and growth opportunities come complete with chauffeuring service. Yes, they have chores but really it's barely enough to teach some responsibility and self-care. I know I can be stricter but I'm not always up to the fight.
Norah Ephron once said that every woman with a teenager must have a dog so that someone is happy to see them when they walk in the door. I concur. My kids are not happy to see me anymore. Gone is the rush to tackle me with hugs at the door. I'm happy to see them but only for about three minutes until the groaning, grunting and complaining starts. Adjusting to who they are today is like trying to befriend a rabid raccoon who plays double-duty as a greased pig. Elusive, angry, fast, and slippery while outwardly appearing very, very sweet.
No doubt Mother Nature invented this stage to make sure the young separate from the mother to ensure the species. They must become independent if the species is to live on. Couldn't she have found a gentler way? Freeze parents in a subterranean crypt as the ugly years happen and upon re-entry, the mother re-meets her offspring, matured, sensible and kind?
All this comes down, once again, to giving up the precious past and making peace with what is. It's the key to living on the back nine.
When it comes to kids, I now understand why parents nag their grown children about grandkids. So they can relive the good years again!
I never said giving up the past was easy!