#19. Parenting is lifelong.
When your children are small, you think this is the most difficult time of your life. Diapers, fevers, tantrums, oh my!! It has to be easier when they are grown.
What does that mean? Do they ever stop growing? I haven’t stopped growing!
We are always waiting for the next stage in their development whether it’s walking, talking or starting school. There is always a step, as though we are accompanying them up the stairway to ADULTHOOD…some magical place where we are no longer responsible, no longer needed, no longer of service.
This is so far from the truth.
Parenting is not a job that simply ends at 18 or 21 or 55. They continue to grow and change every day and you are part of that. You never stop worrying about them, caring for them and loving them. Everything they do has some effect on you. There are feelings of pride, guilt, concern, sadness, relief, excitement and fear that run through you as they continue on their journey of life.
The hardest part of being a parent is when you no longer have the right to be involved. Your involvement becomes a privilege. Your knowledge of what is happening in their life crosses lines of confidentiality policies and ventures into new territories of friendship, mentor-ship and consultation…if you’re lucky. Suddenly, the flashbacks of boo boos, band aids and kissing it “all better” are sweet memories. It was so simple then. As your children get bigger, so can their problems. When you no longer have the ability to protect them the way you used to, it can be the most unsettling and frustrating feeling you have ever felt. Your colicky baby that kept you up night after night was still SAFE in your arms. As they get older, it is much more of a challenge to let go and simply pray for their safety and well-being.
Parenting doesn’t end when your children are not children. As long as you are worried, you are still a parent.
They are part of you forever.