WATCH OUT for the teen years, my friends with kids told me when mine were young. Your adorable children will turn into...and they'd paint this horrific picture of my beautiful kids morphing into monsters.
I didn't believe em. After all, I'd donated more of my time and energy to my kids than my career since they'd arrived on the scene. No Latchkey kids, unlike we were raised, my DH and I agreed. Between the female artist, and the male software developer, reason dictated he would be the primary bread-winner. My creative career would have to shift to the background of my full-time job as mom.
Beyond taking care of our kids physical needs, I've spent the last 16 yrs working so very hard at keeping our communication open, honest, constant. I've probed and prodded and insisted my kids talk to me. Everyday. And not just chatter, but tell me something real—who they hung with, what they learned, how they feel. And for quite some time, and maybe even still today, my teens would likely say that I'm their best friend.
I've been anticipating a separation to occur between us, excited for the teen years to come, for both of us. My beautiful kids are turning into kind people, for which I'm both grateful and proud. They're growing up, moving on to their lives. It's time for me to step back, let them take care of themselves more and more. For 16 years I've been deferring my muse, entrenched in being a mom and caretaker first. I'm ready, eager to go back to directing my life.
My teens, on the other hand, aren't so thrilled to move on—cut the cord. Prickly and passionate like most teens, they're searching for themselves, separate from family, yet are still unable to be truly independent. They're brains are mature enough now to understand our competitive, often harsh world they've felt little impact from during their formative years. Seeing what it takes to make it on their own today, a good percentage of their psyche wants to stay a kid, continue being taken care of. Safe at home. I get it, though have not lived this. My home was neither satisfying, nor a safe emotional space.
I'm glad to provide an environment my kids are happy to be in. And I'm lucky, to be sure, that even in their teen years, beyond loving them, I really like both of them. But sometimes I wonder if the environment we're providing is a little too secure. Staying a kid only works with a mom, or benefactor. Growing up is about taking care of yourself. As their taxi, their therapist, their teacher, their bank, their cook, their conscience, my kids have it made here. Regardless that they are now mature enough to converse more articulately than most adults I've met, the difference between their words and actions is the Grand frigging Canyon. And while I'm ready for them to take the reins and guide their own lives, they aren't even on the horse.
Parents of teen assured me my kids would become rude, distant, aggressive—angling to put in place a separation between us. And while some of this is going on, it's minimal at best, comparatively speaking from what I've witnessed. What parents who made it through the teen years didn't tell me is that I would be the one looking to cut the cord.