Would the last blogger please turn out the lights. All the cool kids are podcasting, fortunately though, some wonderful writers are still sharing hidden gems like this heartwarming essay from an acquaintance of mine to her seventeen year-old daughter.
Marycake CAN flat out write. Her eloquent description of parenting being a steady mix of joy and sadness perfectly described my experience of co-parenting two daughters a decade older than hers.
This excerpt of hers surfaces a dilemma a lot of my friends, especially female ones who parented full-time, have struggled with as their children have reached adulthood and moved out.
“Watching my daughter grow into young womanhood so focused, imaginative and bold, has made me wonder how my life would have been different if I had taken, Dare Greatly, as my motto, or Live Out Loud? Or just Be a Great Girl? But you know, it feels late to change. I am so caught up in observing the unfolding wonder of my daughters’ lives, (and in driving them all over creation) that it’s exhausting to imagine doing much with mine except laundry, or making vague threats about dressing down the boys who come around.”
No one teaches parents who parent full-time for long stretches of time how to balance their selfless care for their children with their own personal growth. In particular, with the best of intentions, parents privileged to stay home with their children sometimes loose themselves in their parenting resulting in a parent-child interdependence that complicates the tough enough already transition to young adulthood.
Sometimes so much that when their young adult children move out the parents miss their children more than the children miss them.
The challenge is how do full-time parents maintain some semblance of autonomy when so enmeshed in their childrens’ lives for a decade or two? Parenting is so time and energy consuming, how do full-time parents in particular maintain outside interests, meaningful relationships with other adults, and a some sense of purpose that extends beyond their child or children?
I wonder, for those of us who are either approaching 50 or older, is the answer not to parent so intensely?
I think so.
“I just gave her room to grow,” Marycake says a few times.
Like every parent, Marycake is nostalgic for her family’s past. Despite that, she seems to be avoiding the psychological and spiritual downsides that tend to accompany long-term, extreme child-centeredness.