Over the last several weeks, this inner sense of calm and contentment has snuck up on me. My life is still very much in transition but I am relaxing into the place of not knowing where I am headed. I have been looking at my children, who are 21 and 18, and feeling an incredible sense of wonder and relief as they move out into the world. Wonder at the adults they are becoming; relief that they have reached this stage in their lives with their bodies, minds and hearts intact.
A few weeks ago, I visited my son at college. He is living in an apartment with two friends from school. They found this place on their own this year. They have fixed it up really nicely. They are eating meals together. They are having fun. At some level, this is not a big deal; everyone’s child moves through this stage. But, it struck me that somewhere over the last few years, my son has grown up. He has learned how to take care of himself. He has developed a new circle of friends. He has cultivated a long-term relationship with his girlfriend. He has a dream about what he wants to do for a living.
Over the last few weeks, I have seen the seeds of the same in my daughter. She is working as a Teacher’s Assistant this term for an extra course credit at high school. She is loving it; marking kids’ assignments, assisting kids with their math, and helping them with their reading. Each day, she comes home with stories about the 9-year olds in her class. The little girl has grown into a long-limbed young woman. She has a circle of male and female friends. She has a part-time job and a dream of becoming a teacher.
Parenting is a tough, and often thankless, job. At times, it is physically, financially and emotionally exhausting. There are days when you wonder if they will ever be able to take care of themselves. There are days when you worry about them succeeding at school; days when you worry about them figuring out what they want to do for a living; days when you worry that they don’t have good friends; and days when you worry that they are too busy having fun with their friends. And then there are moments when you see them – hugging a friend, talking passionately about some new interest, or smiling at a baby – and you know, deep in your bones, that they are going to be just fine.