Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Mothering Adults


I think I stink at it.

It's been a hard transition, figuring out what my role is supposed to be in the lives of my adult children. First of all, I can't believe I HAVE adult children. Though my mirror tells me otherwise, I still feel like I'm about 12.

My oldest moving out for college tugged hard on my heart. Really, I feel sorry for poor Drummer Boy who has to be the one to experience all the firsts his mother is forced to deal with. When the guy went to kindergarten I cried every day for at least a week. The summer before he went to college was horrible. I dreamed about him leaving and worried about how it would affect our family. After he left, looking at his empty place at the table every night made me so sad. To protect my weak heart, I adopted an "out of sight, out of mind" attitude. Talking to him made me miss him more. Hearing about issues he might be having made me worry and fret. I felt better if I wasn't reminded of our missing piece, our little Drummer Boy. No one needed to worry about me being a helicopter parent. I erred on the side of not enough communication. Yeah, cowardly. I know. Not proud of it.

I'm not sure I ever got a handle on the loss of Drummer Boy in our every day lives, when I lost another child to adulthood. Throughout her entire senior year of high school, thinking about Drama Queen leaving the nest left a pit in my stomach. Because their personalities are so different, my worries for her varied from my concerns for her brother, but the familiar ache was there. Somehow I didn't stress about it quite as much the summer before she left. Maybe dealing with her broken wrist helped, plus I remembered how miserable our last summer with Drummer Boy was and didn't want to repeat it. Every time I felt the panic about it, I pushed it aside, determined to enjoy our last months with her home.

When Drama Queen moved out, people asked me if it was easier since we'd done it before. No way. Not even close. Each child is a unique loss, you know, with specific strengths and traits they bring to the family. How can it be easier to lose another piece of us? Another empty place at the table brings it front and center every day. I'm such a wimp that after I left her at college, less than an hour away, I cried half the way home.

But I'm learning. While it might be easier for me personally to have an "out of sight, out of mind" attitude, it didn't feel right. Honestly, I felt weak and lame and worried about it sending the wrong message to my kids even though I've explained it to them. God's been working hard on me to give my adult children to Him. He's teaching me to detach myself from their every emotion and problem. This phase of mothering requires giving them space, letting them figure things out for themselves which might be tough to watch. I'm learning, slowly, to trust God with it.

I've decided instead of worrying, I need to remind them who they are (members of both our family and God's). I set up a Boesiger Bunch page on Facebook which is just for our family and occasionally post things there--old pictures, verses which hit me, videos I know they'd get a kick out of. It's a simple way to stay us.

I'm learning I don't need to know all the details unless they need to talk about them. I still don't call very much, but I text when I'm thinking of them. I don't question their every move. If I have concerns I voice them and leave it. I don't freak when I read stressful sounding Facebook statuses or notice a posting at 3:AM.

I pray, pray, pray. So much praying.

I'm finding this stage of motherhood the hardest yet. I can't do it for them. I don't dictate the path. I can't block the hazards. I'm only the sounding board when asked. But in muddling through, in bringing my anxieties to a very good God, I'm learning to trust Him, the One who writes the plan, who loves them more than I do, to bring about His glory in their lives.

And I grow too. Maybe more than they do. Isn't that just like God?

Do you have adult children? How do you mother them?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh Thank you for your words!! I am struggling with how to mother my two adult daughters. You are right this is the hardest stage of motherhood, I too am praying and trying to let go with love. And thanking God for letting me borrow them for a while and now they are his again.
I will reread this daily. Thank you, Barbara

Anonymous said...

Oh Thank you for your words!! I am struggling with how to mother my two adult daughters. You are right this is the hardest stage of motherhood, I too am praying and trying to let go with love. And thanking God for letting me borrow them for a while and now they are his again.
I will reread this daily. Thank you, Barbara

Tami Boesiger said...

Barbara,
Though I'm finding this time to be the hardest, it does come with some rewards too. I like the greater amount of free time I have. I like the unspoken excitement at our house when everybody's together. I like seeing we are still connected though we live apart. And I like learning to trust God better. I hope you are experiencing some good things too. Much love and a prayer sent to you, my friend.