By Melissa Ford
I’m fairly accustomed to life without kids so when summer rolls around and my college-age kids flock home, it takes some slight adjustments on my part (primarily in my attitude), as I gather up dishes and cups while stepping over and around footwear, purses, gym bags, magazines, and sundry other items. As I dial down my irritation, I begin reflecting on life before young adults, when I was busy cooking, cleaning, tutoring, carpooling, gathering up dishes and cups, and dreaming about kids becoming young adults.
Time moved slowly back then and in retrospect, it was a lot more work than I ever realized in those day-to-day moments. There were long, tedious days; days filled with joy and excitement; lazy mornings, and crazy, over-scheduled afternoons. But during all of those life-filled days, weeks, years, and decades, there was one primary goal: raising self-reliant, independent, happy kids, who could function in the world and be successful in their lives.
It’s true! As parents, it’s our job to raise our children well, so one day they leave us. Childhood is their path toward this jumping off point, and along the way we teach them how to make friends and keep them, how to believe in themselves especially when it would be easier to give up, how crucial it is that they continue to grow and reach for new goals even if it seems daunting, and how we are forever cheering them on as they go out into that magnificent, wonderful, intriguing world without us.
Along this pathway, we are continually celebrating our children’s independence. Oohing and ahhing over their first steps to enthusiastic congratulatory pats on the back as they graduate from school. For many of us, a sadness, loneliness or sense of loss can creep in as we witness those final steps, but it’s just another opportunity to teach ourselves that we can celebrate our own independence, too, and our successes - for a job well done.