Everyone warns you about the hard part of having babies. How there will be sleepless nights, and about the teething, and the potential for colic. They give you advice on how to make your way through the days that never seem to end and commiserate with you over coffee.
Toddlerhood brings with it a new set of challenges and is so legendary it comes with its own set of nicknames. There are the terrible twos, the tantrum threes, and worst of all the fearsome fours. You can’t bump into someone who doesn’t have a tale to tell about surviving those first few years.
Navigating puberty and the ever-changing tween is the next well-acknowledged rough patch of parenthood. There are hormones galore, mood changes by the minute, and, of course, the social angst that accompanies middle school. Everybody remembers living through it themselves, and a sympathetic ear is rarely hard to find.
Then come the teenage years. They bring with them dating and driving tests, college searches and curfews, and sometimes drinking and drugs. The divide between the parents who pretend they have it all figured out and those who admit they don’t surfaces. From here on out it will only grow wider. You have to search for support when you need it but it’s still there.
Parenting an adult is a whole other story. Your child may face job losses, infertility, divorce, financial troubles, and so on, but by the time your kids are grown it seems both you and they are supposed to have everything figured out. Stories of families whose adult children also have issues are few and far between. I don’t know if it’s because they are embarrassed of the situation their kids are in, or simply ashamed that they are helping them.
There is no magical age when you suddenly get everything right. Sometimes you are successful at 22. For others, it might be 32. Some may struggle all their lives. I’d like to hear more parents talk about helping their children through the hard times rather than another story about how wonderful and perfect and well-adjusted everyone is.
I’m almost 50 and I still rely on my parents for help. I certainly wouldn’t be able to juggle working full time and getting my younger kids to their various after school activities without my mother. From time to time, they have also helped us out financially when we have been in a jam. If they are willing and able to offer assistance, should I decline it just because I’m an adult?
If I can provide help to my adult children when they are down on their luck, why do I have to justify it? Maybe they don’t need any more life lessons or confidence-builders or to learn how to work through a tough situation. Maybe what they need is their mother. And if I’m able to be there for them, why on earth would I deny them just to prove a point?
There’s an old saying that goes: “Home is where they have to take you in.” Not after you’ve achieved a certain level of success. Not when you are pulling in the big bucks. Not when it’s easy to do so. And certainly not only up until a certain age. So my kids don’t need to worry. I think it’s just as okay to be the mommy as it is to need your mommy, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.