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I am a parent to adult sons
My first son was born when I was 19, while I was a sophomore in College. By the time I graduated, I had two toddlers! In my culture, having two kids as a teenager was unconventional, and unacceptable!!!
Today, my two sons are adults, in their late 20's, still single and trying to establish their careers. Since I had them at a very young age, they are much older than the children of my contemporaries. When my sons graduated from college, my friends were so envious because I was done with tuition fees and done worrying about my kids as if I was free from parenthood. A friend who had her first baby when we were in our 40s asked me once, "when does the worrying end?" I reassured her by saying, "I hate to break it to you, it never does!"
I worried less when my sons were younger and were in school. It must be a control factor! When they graduated from pre-school, they went to grade school. After that, they went through high school, and then after high school, they were off to college. It was the natural path to adulthood, the way it should be! After college, then what!?! I worried about them more than ever! It is a mean world out there, and I have seen it. You just hope that they make the right decisions for themselves and they will be able to cope with the challenges heading their way. I guess worrying is what mothers do!
By no means am I motherly! I separated from my ex-husband while my sons were very young and spent most of their younger years being away. I was the ideal absentee mother. Another unconventional and unacceptable thing I did in my life! Good thing, my sons grew up to be sensible adults and we were able to maintain our relationship.
While I am a parent to adult children, I myself am an adult child to my parents. Now that's another story! Many times, I find myself in the same annoyed situation as my children, and at the same time the smothering parent I try so hard to avoid! It is hard to mix the two roles, knowing how to behave respectfully towards my parents, at the same time setting an example to my children.
And then there's the girlfriend issue! Thank God I have sons otherwise, I would be dealing with boyfriend issues the same way my parents did with me!! My parenting duties would have been very different and highly dependent on Prozac! One weekend, my older son asked me if he and his girlfriend (from out of town) could spend the weekend with us. We have extra rooms in the house so of course I said yes. I love having them (my sons) over but girlfriend sleeping over was unknown territory to me because I was never allowed to bring a friend of the opposite sex to sleep over at my parents' house. That would be suspicious! I was not sure whether to prepare a separate room for his girlfriend or assume they will share a room. Because it is public knowledge (even with my children) that I was having pre-marital sex at an age younger than they are now, I could not impose "no sex allowed in my house" rule. Besides, I was not born yesterday! And they weren't either, I am pretty sure they know where babies come from.
I thought the wise thing to do was to pass on the responsibility to my son to decide where his girlfriend would stay. Instead, they arrive and he asks "which room are WE going stay in?" WHAAAAAAAAH! In my head I wanted to lock her up in the guest room while I tie him up in the room where he usually stays right next to my room. Well, that didn't happen!
I was so proud of myself for being open minded. Until my younger son (also an adult) decides to have a "conversation" with me! Talk about reversal of roles! Not quite a scolding but close enough, he said, "why did you allow them to share rooms?" I swear, it felt like I was having a conversation with my Dad! I was dumbfounded! My son questioning my parenting skills…..which has always been questionable anyway. I said I would have done the same thing for him and his girlfriend. But that was unacceptable! Oh man, I will burn in hell for condoning co-habitation!!! So I said, "I know you're having sex with your girlfriend, so what difference does it make?" He replied, "I would not do it in your house." Gosh, I am touched!
And then there's the car issue. When my sons started driving, I was worried shitless! After a few years, they worried about my driving, not necessarily because they are looking out for safety but more of lack of sense of direction and my dyslexia! It is a wonderful combination when driving. When a scratch or dent appears on the car I get this "Ma, what did you do to the car?" When the car keys were damaged, "Ma what happened to the car keys?" They also taught me the meaning of "keyless car" so that I don't waste time (good 10 min or so) looking for my car keys just when we are about to leave, "Ma you don’t have to take the key out of your purse!" "Leave the keys in your purse." Oh I see!
They taught me Viber so that I avoid charges for overseas calls while I am away, but once I discovered how easy it was to use, they stopped answering my calls. I later realized that calling every morning while they are at work was not cool!
I have Mark Zuckerberg to thank for inventing Facebook, allowing parents to spy on their children and their girlfriends….past and present. When you're introduced to a new girl their dating, the first thing these girls do is "Friend" you on Facebook. Being the accepting Mama, I ACCEPT ASAP! After awhile, they realize it was a bad idea! And, when things don't work out, you end up with a collection of ex-girlfriends "Friends"! I guess out of respect, they are unable to "un-Friend" me. My Friends of ex-girlfriends hasn't grown that much (not yet), and I hope it stays that way.
So now, they are on their own path to adulthood. They decide which dentist will pull out their wisdom teeth, what clothes to buy, and where they go with their friends and girlfriends during the holidays. I am not allowed to buy them underpants, that is definitely off limit! And, do not go into the pharmacy with them, whatever it is they are purchasing from there, it is a private matter! They will be spending more time away from home, and eventually will be living away from home. While they were once the clingy toddlers, they are becoming more independent and I am discreetly becoming the clingy parent. I may not know what they are up to 24/7, but I do know their aspirations, who their friends are, and what they want to do with their life (at least I think so!). Grudgingly, (we) parents think our children make their presence known only when they need something. But I learned that when things aren't going as planned, I am comforted by the fact that they make me part of it. My sense of parenthood kicks in when they ask for advice regarding their career, and sometimes their health. When they were younger, we looked forward to the time when we didn’t need to do so much child-caring and rearing! My message to you, my friends, when they do become more independent and making their own decisions, you will want to be part of what's happening in their lives as if it were their first steps, first word, or first day of school!