If you had said to me 8 years ago – Hey, would you like three more young children to raise up into adults? My polite but rapid response would be not just no, but hell no!!! However, in most cases you don’t pick who you fall in love with, and you certainly cannot choose to love a man with kids, if you don’t love the kids too.
Fast forward 8 years to 2010 and see my life now… I have 3 children ages 26, 22, and 19… and I have three wonderful step-children ages 16, 15, and 14.
Notice the difference, my kids all had a couple of years between them. When the oldest was 16, the youngest was 11, and the middle child was 13. That was easier. The problem here is they are all going through the exact same stage at the same time… and it’s making me insane!
Our dear daughter is working toward becoming and independent woman. She’s doing a great job of it, all while making me crazy. She is dating a young man who is 18 almost 19 and he’s a great guy – but he’s got ideas about things… something we try very hard to keep our kids from having. (not really, please don’t flame me) He has a job, a car, and a life outside of his home. He wants our daughter to have a job, a car, and a life outside of her home. We are not prepared for that… We are not ready for her to go to work and have her grades suffer for it. We’re not ready to take the chance on wrecking a car, and we’re certainly not ready for her to have a life away from us.
But as adults we know that she needs these experiences to become an adult. As parent’s we worry that she’ll follow the wrong lead, or go with the wrong person, and something awful will happen – even though we’ve taught her better. Because, inherently we don’t trust ourselves. We doubt that we’ve done our jobs right, because as a teenager, well, she still makes mistakes. She still chooses the wrong thing sometimes. However, if we keep her sheltered, and don’t allow her to make those mistakes, then well – we’re doing her a disservice, how will she learn if we don’t allow the lesson.
On the other hand, our son Seth, would like nothing better than to sit behind the computer screen on roleplay forums, or in chat all day every day. He makes straight A’s in school, but is minimally available at home. If you ask for something to be done (his laundry, dishes, bathroom cleaning) he either does it half-assed, or not at all. Or it turns into an argument that lasts for hours. While one of the most loving and peaceful children I’ve ever met, he is also one of the most insolent and lazy. He gets an attitude if you ask him to take his dog outside… ahhhh memories, I have a 22 year old sleeping on my couch while he finishes college that was the same way at 15… without the insolence.
He is a responsible young man, when he wants to be. He is mature beyond his years but he also has his daddy’s temper. Which means when he gets mad… he gets mad.
Our youngest son, is the one that bothers me the most. Not because he’s special needs, but because there is nothing I can do as a mother to help him. All we can do is love him from afar… his hospitalization breaks our hearts, but we know that it was the only way. We deep down know that he is great hands, getting better care than he ever has… but it’s hard on us knowing that we his parents could not do what needed to be done. It’s depressing. But then we look at the point that we did do what needed to be done – we reached out to his doctors, and took their suggestions at hand, and they recommended hospitalization.
Teenagers are exasperating, aggravating, and unnerving. They make parents cringe and cry… but they are the final stage to adulthood, and a direct reflection of us, as parents. We are proud of all of our kids, and sometimes we don’t tell them enough…
So today, I challenge you, no matter what the task, big or small – tell your kids you’re proud of them today!