Parenting? I QUIT!
I’ve had some interesting conversations with Kelli lately.
About 401Ks, insurance deductibles, car batteries. I look at her somewhat confused.
Why is a 5-year-old asking me such hard questions?
Then I remember. She isn’t five anymore. She’s 22 and a college graduate and an interior designer and a wife.
But didn’t we just celebrate her first steps, her first bike ride, her driver’s permit? Now she commutes to her job in St. Louis with all those lanes of speeding cars, and flies on planes to work for clients in other states.
I used to pay her to do chores around the house–a little extra for the yucky ones I didn’t want do. I helped her fill out her first job application in high school and transferred money into her bank account when she was living like a poor college student. Now she has a salary and vacation days and a retirement plan.
I used to pray for the little boy God had picked out to be her PRINCE CHARMING someday. Then the boys started coming around, so I prayed He’d protect her heart. Now I thank God for the young man and new husband who completes her–and our family.
Childhood passed so sneaky quick. We pointed Kelli in a direction and pushed her forward and prayed and pulled her back and prayed and watched and waited and worried and prayed.
And now we have adult conversations about grown-up things. One day I hung up the phone and it hit me.
I raised my hands in joyous ceremony, twirled in glorious circles, and laughed out loud: “I quit!”
My job is complete.
I quit parenting Kelli.
And it’s time. I feel it inside, and Kelli feels it, too. I hear it in her voice when I say or do a parenting thing that unintentionally insults her adulthood.
You know, we weren’t given a manual when we started parenting, and I’m finding out there are no instructions to tell you how to stop either. Unlearning to parent has its own skill set:
Physical Endurance–I know the exact amount of pressure it takes to bite my lip hard enough to hold back words without drawing blood, for minutes at a time.
Exceptional Memory–I remember being a young wife and how easily offended I could be. How dare my mom share a tip for removing a stain from my shirt? As if I didn’t know how to do laundry (eye roll).
Honest Humility–I carefully weigh the advice I feel inclined to share because it just might be my opinion posing as wisdom.
Bionic Vision–I try to see things from Kelli’s perspective. Of course, I know my view is the right view, but maybe it’s not the only right view. Probably, it’s not. Young people see things in new ways. I tend to see things my old way.
Excellent Hearing–I try to listen. A lot.
So consider this my official declaration. I quit parenting. I can’t tell my daughter what to do, when to do it, or how to do it anymore. I am not responsible for her decisions or her dreams, her successes or her failures.
It feels really…good. Like crossing-the-finish-line good.
But amid all this change, one thing will never change.
I’ll always be her mom. When Kelli needs me, I’m here…with all my experience and advice and wisdom. With hugs and tears and friendship that grows with age. With smiles and fears and worry lines that will never fade. With love, so much love, the very special kind found in a mom’s heart.
And if she ever asks how to remove a stain on her shirt, I know a simple tip that works.
When did you know it was time for your mom to quit parenting you? Or when did you know it was time to quit parenting your new adult?
When you hit that share button, more moms join us on The MOM Journey! Who can we reach and encourage in 2019? How can I encourage you this year? If there’s a topic you’d like us to discuss, email me: Karen@KarenSargentBooks.com. I’d love to hear your ideas!