Well, it’s finally happened. My daughter turned 18. The age of consent. The age of responsibility. She can vote, go to war, pay taxes – do pretty much whatever her little autonomous heart desires, as long as it doesn’t hurt her or anybody else.
Speaking as a seasoned mother of 18 years, so far it’s been a heck of a ride.
Since the Big Birthday, I’ve run the gambit of emotion: excitement, relief, disbelief (“Jeez, I’m old!”), tears, and celebration.
Then night falls, worry sets in, GPS tracking is activated, and the confusion about exactly how much control I have over this new “adult” begins.
“Mr. Google” and I have done much surfing on this topic of late. My house=my rules seems to be the usual parental mantra.
But everyone makes that sound so easy. intellectually, it’s a simple concept to grasp: when someone lives in my home, they follow my rules. But throw a rebellious teen into the equation and all bets are off.
So, I wrote them up – the newly-revised expectations of my daughter — rules for when she’s in the house and rules for when she’s not.
And since she’s primarily OUT of the house, there they stay – the House Rules – posted prominently on the fridge being completely ignored (read unseen) by my new vagabond.
But she’s 18, so my only recourse is to tell her to get her own place, right?
But what if she can’t afford her own place? And there’s the fact that I’m still unsure she’ll even keep herself safe in the world, because she’s made some really unwise choices in the recent past. What if her inexperience makes her vulnerable and she puts her life in danger?
Welcome to my world at 3 a.m.
After much agonizing (come to me, Advil), I realize my angst and sense of powerlessness are the result of fear and sadness — fear that I can no longer keep my daughter safe, and sadness that she doesn’t need me to.
The reality is, she has taken flight, and I’ve got to let go.
It’s more than a transition – it’s a paradigm shift – no longer seeing my kid as a child but as an adult, responsible for her actions, her time, her job, her future. I’m more or less out of the loop. And that’s really, really weird.
But as emotional as it all is, she’s doing remarkably well for a “newborn.” She has not one but two jobs, her own checking account, a healthy sense of self-confidence, and is sailing with (what I hope is) a strong moral compass.
She also has a safe car with GPS, AAA, and a bottle of pepper spray – all compliments of Mom and Step-Pop.
We’re helping her build a safety toolkit, knowing once it’s in place we’ll rest easier as we watch her successfully “launch”.
But these dang mood swings are running me. Naps, bubble baths, and the basketball Finals (NBA, take me away) are helping soothe this savage Mom-beast, but I think the only real antidote will be seeing her survive and thrive over time.
And, independent or not, with the help of satellite technology, Big Mother will still be watching.