Someone asked me the other day “When do your kids begin needing you less?” I had to stop and think. We have three young men of ages 26, 24, and 22. Do they need me less….then when? Then when they were newborns? Yep…all of them are weaned and no one is still on the bottle. Then when they were in preschool? You bet…I have not cleaned up an “accident” in twenty years. Then when they were in grade school? Well yes…it’s been 12 years since I carried ten flashlights in my purse for a week while “helping” with a science fair project. What about when they were in high school? Again. Yes…I have not been called into the principal’s office for years. No one has pretended to be hit by a car in front of a teacher or been accused of taking ecstasy while popping an ibuprofen in a long time!
So…do they still need us at all? Yes. Absolutely yes. Eric and I are a ride when the car breaks down. A quick 20 bucks when payday is a bit too far away. A partner for coffee when it’s just time to talk. We will provide a place to stay, a meal when they are hungry (although it may not be what they find particularly appetizing at the time!) and a washer and dryer when they are out of clothes.
But as I list those things…I realize that I too have needed a ride to the airport at 5am….needed money for something when I forgot my ATM card…and needed a coffee partner when I just wanted someone to talk to. My kids have been with me through a divorce, nine years of single parenting, and five years of public assistance. They saw me through nursing school, endless nights of studying for the NCLEX, three companies, multiple positions, and learning how to make myself as indispensable as possible because I needed my job. They watched me learn how to trust someone else enough to let them in, learn how to be a wife again and learn how to admit that I don’t know everything or always make the right choices. I know in my heart I would not have survived or more accurately thrived…if not for them.
Do they need me? Yes. Do I need them? Sometimes even more so. We need each other. So does there come a time when our kids are completely self-sufficient and no longer need anything from us? I hope not. My life will be a little calmer but a whole lot sadder if that day comes. You know me….I’ll take happy over calm any day!