I am mulling over the stages of motherhood I have been through so far, including early childhood, the teenage years and young adult. What a difference a few years makes!
When my girls were in their preteen years they basically believed everything I said, even though they may not have liked it. They came to me with all their questions, like I was the world wide web. They also understood everything I said, and I didn’t feel like I was speaking in a foreign language. They recognized a lie was a lie and it was best to tell the truth, because one way or another I was always going to find out what was going on. Then came the teenage years, sigh.
Suddenly, there is a shift in communication. Now they know everything and I know nothing. The fact I have a degree is worthless because, after all, so much has happened since I graduated college that there is a huge void in my education. Not only that, but my 45 years plus of life experience isn’t worth a hill of beans. They would rather get advice from their friends, who understand what they are going through. No amount of convincing was going to persuade them that I had more to offer in the way of advice than someone their own age, who basically got out of diapers 10 years ago, completed kindergarten 8 years ago, learned the facts of life 5 years ago, and is making the same stupid mistakes as they are today. Still it must feel great to think you know everything at 13. I noticed they talked less about what was going on in their lives and started not understanding what I was saying, as though we were now speaking different languages. How many times have they used selective hearing when I have said something, and only took away what they wanted to hear? How many times have I given permission to do something only to have them change all the circumstances and expect me to still go along with it? And, the “truth” suddenly became a little more fuzzy. It’s not the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth any more. Now it’s more like “if it’s not asked, don’t tell“…or the lie of omission. A parent can’t let their guard down for a second and forget to ask all the pertinent questions because they will use that as their “loophole” for neglecting to tell you material facts. The “you didn’t ask me” loophole.
Then, one day, they hit the magical age of “18” and, in all sincerity, consider themselves to be adults, with all the rights and privileges implied therein. Meanwhile, I am wondering what happened overnight, that made that metamorphosis even remotely possible? So I go down my checklist: Do you pay your own bills? Do you make your own dinner? Do you have credit? Do you have a job? Do you have money? Have you even put 1,000 miles on that new license (that I paid the lessons for so you could pass the road test)? Are you paying rent/room and board? Are you paying for car insurance? Do you buy your own clothes? Do you pay for your cell phone? If you get sick, do you know what to do? And, of course, the answers to these and many other questions is a resounding “NO.” So therefore I concluded and politely explained that “18” was just a number and that unless and until they have all the responsibilities of an adult, they are still children.
I think my daughter got my point. One day I overheard her talking to a friend on the phone. Apparently, she was asked to do something and she told them (using the good judgment I instilled in her) that she wasn’t allowed. To which the friend must have promptly followed up with, “But you are an adult, you’re 18 and you can do whatever you want.” And my daughter replied with, “You don’t understand, in this house, 23 is the new 18.” That was a very proud moment for me, my baby was growing up!