Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Best Stage of Parenting

 

There’s a scene in Father of the Bride that I relate to these days, as a parent of two young adult daughters. In the scene, Steve Martin’s character gapes as his grown daughter morphs into a tiny girl in braids who pipes up at the dinner table to announce her upcoming nuptials. My girls aren’t getting married yet, I’m happy to say. But I get the spirit of the movie scene when I watch all the little ways my daughters behave like grownups when I clearly remember bringing them home as helpless infants and then muddling through years of thwarted attempts to train them in basic responsibility and focus. It has dawned on me that somewhere in the last few years, something took, and now I can only drink in each delicious moment as these kids confidently lead their lives and reveal their depth.

Several little ways they have of showing ownership and wisdom have me not gaping, but wondering warmly at where my reluctant, fairy-obsessed, teacher-vexing progeny of lax parentage went, and who replaced them with these delightful grownups. Moms and dads struggling through the frustration and fog of various childhood stages, take hope:

1.) They give me advice. All the time. I especially love this one. They are eighteen and twenty, so how do they know these things? Yesterday, they were toddling around in matching dresses. Now their care-laden speeches bemuse me as if the two-year-old were saying, “Mom, don’t write an e-mail until you cool off.” “It’s okay, Mom, it’s just traffic. It’s going to be fine.” Pat, pat. “I think we should leave ten minutes earlier. Thirty minutes is not enough to get there and get a seat before it starts. I’ll make your toast for you so we can go.” “Oh, don’t worry, Mom. It’ll get there. Sometimes the mail just takes a little longer.” “Why don’t we pack the big things first, and then we can figure out the rest from there?” “Just use the alarm on your phone, Mom.”

2.) They are proactive about important stuff.  I just sit back and watch as they take care of their classes, their finances, their job-seeking, their living situation, and all the details in between. I admit they do better at these things than I did at their age. A lot of this good management is probably their dad’s influence. He took them to the bank when they were teenagers and helped them open accounts, and I still enjoy how they pull out their own cards to make purchases. I love how they come up with color-coded schedules and say things like, “Okay, I’m going to start getting up earlier.” At school, they go grocery shopping on Sundays and plan meals, sometimes sending me a snapshot of their cart to show me the sugary cereal and the pop tarts they’re buying. When they learned that their college campus was closing after spring break and that the complex procedures for retrieving their belongings kept evolving, they made a serious plan together that would check all the boxes–these same children whose first words were “da-da” and “ducky.” Then they jumped in their car on the agreed-upon day, did a pile of tasks on campus two and a half hours away, cleaned their apartment, and drove home. They had it all covered. Except for the milk. They forgot the milk in their fridge.

3.) They willingly help out. This is a newer one, emerging after the shutdown. But they each cook on their respective dinner nights. They produce good meals without grumbling and assist with clean-up after dinner. These are the same girls that recently realized, “Hey, we’re adult kids living in our parents’ basement.” My younger one chimed in that she was earning “a useless degree.” However, these basement dwellers will immediately agree when I ask them to work with me on tedious, labor-intensive house projects. It seems like just a few weeks ago when I was fruitlessly making lists in an attempt to distill the room-cleaning process into just a few steps. 1.) Make the bed. 2.) Pick up dirty clothes. 3.) Throw away all the trash. Now, the children are finding a playlist we’ll all enjoy and cheerfully moving boxes, wiping things down, and helping me decide what to donate. When we were getting ready for my father-in-law’s arrival, they pitched in with the housecleaning–I had never felt so buoyed while preparing for a guest. As they were saying goodnight to me that evening, they both stood near me, talking pleasantly and volunteering to fetch whatever I needed. I felt spoiled and didn’t complain.

4.) They have a sweet connection with each other. I remember my younger daughter, barely out of babyhood, staring fascinated at her older sister as she chattered to me on various toddler topics. Soon after that, the younger one started fights by grabbing toys and hiding them, because she didn’t know how to say, Can I play, too? You couldn’t find two people more different from one another than my daughters are. But although they’ve always had their disagreements, on the whole, they like each other, and they know how to compromise. They contentedly share an apartment near the campus, an arrangement that would have lasted for about five and a half minutes for my sister and me at that age. They have had some vague idea of possibly working together in the future in some area of special education. They both hung out in the life skills wing of the high school and love their mutual friend who was a graduate of the program. As pre-teens, they bought each other necklaces with pendants that fit together to say “Sisters.” And wore them.

5.) They work hard at their jobs. My older daughter systematically seeks work. Then she is punctual and conscientious. My younger one, while wishing aloud that a life of work wasn’t stretching before her, finds challenging jobs and then knuckles down admirably. She was a hotel housekeeper one summer, then helped staff a busy pizza restaurant the next, learning to knead dough for hours and take complicated orders in a tourist-dense establishment. It was a surprisingly lucrative position. And while I’m glad the girls are pursuing careers that align with their interests, I couldn’t be more proud of them for earning their paychecks in the meantime.

6.) They are companionable. They’re some of my favorite people to spend time with. We take walks, have interesting discussions, or just default to lying around discussing bits of what we’re reading or watching on our devices. They tell me funny stories and let me think that I’m entertaining to them, as well. When I hear the summons, “Hey, Mom, you want to hang out?” I’m there. The best stage of parenting is when you suddenly realize that those little whippersnappers, the same ones who put their shoes on backward, grew up while you weren’t looking and quietly became your friends.

Published in General
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 12 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Seawriter Contributor

    I am a little bit further down the road on kids than you are. My experience has been if you do a good job raising them, children get more fun the older they get. You are just entering the fun phase of adult children. When they are adults and on their own, they are generally even more fun. 

    I never understood why my father took such pleasure in my accomplishments as an adult. Now, with kids of my own, I do.

    • #1
    • May 23, 2020, at 5:54 PM PDT
    • 14 likes
  2. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeeka Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    I am a little bit further down the road on kids than you are. My experience has been if you do a good job raising them, children get more fun the older they get. You are just entering the fun phase of adult children. When they are adults and on their own, they are generally even more fun.

    I never understood why my father took such pleasure in my accomplishments as an adult. Now, with kids of my own, I do.

    Thank you, Seawriter. More to look forward to! 

    • #2
    • May 23, 2020, at 5:59 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  3. GrannyDude Member

    True, true. 

    And they look after each other, effectively. A few winters ago, one of my sons slipped and smashed his nose on the ice. He went to the hospital, and I was called. There was—of course—a blizzard, so it took me hours to get to the hospital. By the time I did, his siblings were already there, and had taken care of everything. They’d talked to the doctor about concussion, apportioned the work of taking their brother home and nursing him back to health, retrieved the prescription from the hospital pharmacy and organized the insurance. The only thing I did was pay for our take-out lunch.

     

    • #3
    • May 23, 2020, at 6:10 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
  4. PHCheese Member

    The best stage of parenting is? Grandparents!

    • #4
    • May 23, 2020, at 6:46 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  5. Michael Collins Member

    PHCheese (View Comment):
    The best stage of parenting is? Grandparents!

    One of my friends told his wife (in the presence of their children) “We should have just skipped the kids and had the grandkids!”

    • #5
    • May 23, 2020, at 7:00 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  6. PHCheese Member

    Michael Collins (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):
    The best stage of parenting is? Grandparents!

    One of my friends told his wife (in the presence of their children) “We should have just skipped the kids and had the grandkids!”

    Yep all the fun, not the responsibility sort of.

    • #6
    • May 23, 2020, at 7:25 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  7. Limestone Cowboy Coolidge
    Limestone Cowboy Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Not my direct experience, but that of a friend. His daughter was diagnosed with an acute leukemia in her early 20s, and urgently needed a bone marrow transplant. Her kid brother was a match. Kid brother dropped out of college, and came home to be her marrow donor, and then remained to help take care of big sister. The first time it didn’t quite work, so they had to do it all again, and this time it was 100% successful. It has been more than five years without any recurrence.

    According to my friend these two children of his have become closer than ever before. Apparently the standing joke between the two them is that she can now leave her blood at a crime scene and frame her brother… she now shares his blood DNA.

    I suspect that they’ll be tight forevermore.

    .

    • #7
    • May 23, 2020, at 8:15 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  8. GLDIII Temporarily Essential Reagan
    GLDIII Temporarily Essential Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    sawatdeeka (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    I am a little bit further down the road on kids than you are. My experience has been if you do a good job raising them, children get more fun the older they get. You are just entering the fun phase of adult children. When they are adults and on their own, they are generally even more fun.

    I never understood why my father took such pleasure in my accomplishments as an adult. Now, with kids of my own, I do.

    Thank you, Seawriter. More to look forward to!

    Saw

    Mark is right. Both my boys are grown, well educated, good remunerative jobs, and have lovely wives. At the moment we share my oversized home, but they are more than capable of striking it out on there own. At first that was my goal, kick them out ASAP, however now I am feeling annoyed at being bit selfish in that I am enjoying their presence as adults. (The virus thing has made it more interesting since several are telecommuting, I had to up my Comcast service for all of the home internet traffic). I look with hope that they won’t hold off too long on the grandchildren part. It would be nice to relive these guys,

    while I’m am healthy enough to spoil them, but not have the primary parenting worries.

    • #8
    • May 24, 2020, at 7:14 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  9. Allan Rutter Member
    Allan Rutter Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    You are so very right to take note of this and consider your blessings. Our girls have not only turned into remarkably pleasant adults, they married well (which gave me a great new appreciation for my own father-in-law) and are great to be around but also truly enjoy each other. This isn’t always the case for all families, and we are so blessed that they made it through adolescence intact and that they like being in our company.

    • #9
    • May 24, 2020, at 1:47 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  10. Boss Mongo Member

    Sawatdeeka, outstanding. Thank you.

    I’ve had many of the same observations–although could not have articulated as well as you did.

    Sometimes I just want to signal an “all stop,” and ask, “Who are you and what have you done with my kid?”

    • #10
    • May 24, 2020, at 4:46 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  11. Tocqueville Coolidge

    I have two little girls two and a half years apart, 7 and almost 5. They share a room and the youngest still looks at the elder that way. I love reading Laura Ingalls Wilder to them. Like you, my mission has been fostering a good relationship between them, unlike the tumultuous one I had with my sister. I love that you are pleased with how yours have turned out. No greater accomplishment possible. Congratulations! 

    • #11
    • May 25, 2020, at 3:49 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  12. Southern Pessimist Member

    I appreciate that you don’t try to take credit for the successful maturation of your children, Sawatdeeka. As Khalil Gibran said in The Prophet: your children are not your children, they come through you but not from you… you can give them your love but not your thoughts for they have thoughts of their own. You may strive to be like them but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backwards nor tarries with yesterday. You are the bow from which your children are living arrows sent forth…. let your bending in the Archer’s hand be for gladness, for even as He loves the arrow that flies, he loves the bow that is stable.

    • #12
    • May 25, 2020, at 2:06 PM PDT
    • 3 likes