What Now?

by | Sep 1, 2014 | On a Personal Note

Guest Written by Denise Pitts-Robinson
My youngest son is leaving for college. Why is it when our children are heading out on their own we feel the need to review every single decision we have made as a parent? I find myself questioning everything we ever thought important to teach our boys. Did we cover the basic things they will need to know to take care of themselves like cooking, cleaning, laundry, budgeting, balancing the checkbook and mowing the lawn? I think we did. What about all of those little things we call “life lessons” that just pop up from time to time. Did we discuss how to deal with those? What about how to deal with emergencies? Did we teach them it is just as important to have a little fun now and then? I could go on and on about the doubts that keep me up at night now that both of our boys are out on their own, but I won’t. I’m out of time. They no longer need me to remind them to brush their teeth or clean their room. I will no longer threaten to take away their cell phone if they don’t get their laundry put away or their homework done. It is now their responsibility to steer their life in the direction they want it to go … right?
They are adults. They make their own choices and decisions. They live where they want to live, they stay out late, eat what they want, date who they want, and spend money as they see fit. At what point do we interfere or offer advice? We are still their parents. Is it acceptable to step in without them asking us to? Do we step in at all? My grandmother said the best lessons we learn are the ones learned after we fall on our face. You pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again. So that begs the question: do we help or let them fail? No amount of parenting books published can explain how to stand by and let your child fail. How do you decide whether to help or stand by? I have absolutely no idea.
Parenting is the ever-evolving job that has no definitive description and the rules change daily. Parents make mistakes. We do our best, but we are not perfect. The best we can say is that every day we tried to do the right thing. Sometimes it worked out, and other times maybe not, but we tried.
My husband and I are well aware that our roles as parents are drastically changing. Gone are the days of buying their school supplies and driving them to a friend’s house for a sleep over. As busy as we thought we were, I miss those things. I miss their funny antics and stories they tell. I miss the water gun wars, food fights, mud wrestling and especially the bugs and lizards little boys give their mom as presents. But we have come to the realization these new roles aren’t so bad either. I can sleep in on Saturday. I can spend the whole weekend working in my flower beds. If we decide we want to go fishing, guess what? We go fishing! There are no little people left in our home to keep up with and make sure their needs are met. After being parents of kids for 20 years, we are now parents of adults.
There is a certain freedom we haven’t known before. We are learning to enjoy spending time together as husband and wife again. I recently overheard someone refer to me as “Mrs. Robinson” instead of “Nick or Nate’s mom” and couldn’t help but smile. I’m me again!
I don’t have the recipe for what makes a great parent. We tried hard every day and pray we did our best. We have made it clear to our young men that we are available if they need us 24/7. Our oldest called a few days ago wondering why his white gravy wasn’t turning out right. I’m still not sure if he needed my gravy recipe or just needed to talk to his mom, but either way I was happy to be needed.
Nathan graduated the Arkansas Fire Academy this year and is attending school to be an Electrician. Nick graduated High School in May and moves into his college dorm on Monday at U of A. We may wonder and doubt some of our decisions over the years but one thing is for sure, our boys are just fine. We are proud of the young men they have become and looking at them makes me realize maybe we didn’t do so bad after all.

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