Hellooooo from sunny Mexico! My husband and I are on vacation this week (all the hallelujahs), so the person I can always count on to step up and help me out has agreed to share on my site while I break for beach time.
Enter: my Mom. She’s the best. She’s a wildly accomplished writer, an actor & director, and one of the most loyal friends I ever did see. She loves the people in her life so well and I’m always honored to be a chip off the old-is-relative block. Welcome, Mom (applause).
As my daughter, Mallory, celebrated another “adult” birthday, she asked me how it feels to be the parent of adult children – how it differs from the emotions I had when my three were small. It’s been interesting to think about that.
You see, I was never one of those little girls who had a room full of dolls or played house with my friends. As a teenager, I didn’t dream about being a mom. That just wasn’t me. I had what I THOUGHT were higher aspirations than marriage and motherhood. Then, God in His great wisdom brought a handsome, amazing young man into my world and everything changed.
When we got married, a doctor told us we would have difficulty having children – I can’t even remember why at this point because the babies soon came – one after the other– three beautiful, smart, talented, and entertaining little ones. From the moment each of them entered my life, there was no one more important – I knew I would die for them and probably die without them in my life. I truly can say, “I held them with my heart before my arms could touch them.”
Was I always a perfect mother? Heavens, no. Mistake after mistake. Impatience. Anger. Frustration. Self-centeredness. However, I loved my children fully and deeply. (I even committed to paying for any therapy my parenting might necessitate when they reached adulthood.)
As they grew up it was fun to see their personalities develop along with their interests and talents. Their dad and I began to anticipate what their futures would hold – career choices, spouse choices and the most important – the choice to follow God.
So what is it like to have my babies all grown up? It’s wonderful. Their dad and I have the perspective of seeing how one thing led to another – steps God took them on to get them where they are today. Sometimes those steps were very painful things – situations I wanted to fix . . . but couldn’t. But God used each of those painful seasons to teach them lessons, to grow them, to draw them closer to Himself. He pruned people and interests from their lives and grafted new ones in to grow them into the wonderful adults they have become. I guess the old adage “no pain no gain” held true. Not easy for parents to watch but surely kept us on our knees in prayer.
Being the parent of adult children is mostly awesome. My children are my friends with whom I share interests and hobbies. For example, Mallory and I share the groupie fandom of certain writers . . . well, we sort of stalked Anne Lamott at a conference once. (I think we might have scared her.) We also, of course, share a love for words and how they come together to express thoughts. I share other interests with the other two and that makes time together very enjoyable.
Of course, there is a harder part of parenting adults– my husband and I don’t have as much input in their decisions as we did when they were younger. Sometimes we’ve had to be quiet even when we think they aren’t making the best choice – OK in all fairness my husband is better at being quiet than I am – opinions spill out of me. But they’ve always survived and the best part is that they’ve learned from their mistakes.
None of the three ended up in the careers that we anticipated from their youthful interests and passions and once in a while it was hard for me to let go of an expectation, but all three have become exactly the persons they should be at this point in their lives. All three are happy, fulfilled and growing. What more could a momma want?
So, bottom line, my dear Mallory, is that parenting adults is exciting, entertaining, fun and the biggest blessing I could ever have imagined – those “higher aspirations” I thought I had in my younger days . . . not even close!
Carolyn Larsen is wife to Eric, mom to three, and grandma to three (plus one adorable beagle). She has written more than 60 books for both children and adults in the Christian market. One of her greatest joys was hearing that one children’s Bible storybook was being used to teach the inmates of a women’s prison.
When she isn’t writing, Carolyn is acting in (or attending) theater productions, hanging out with her grandsons, or lunching & laughing with friends. Be sure to follow her on Facebook!