I remember thinking, as each of my two children were placed in my arms as newborns, they would never be more PERFECT than they were at that exact moment. Over the years, I've kept it in mind, knowing full well they would make mistakes just as their fallable parents had done. We play good cop/bad cop at our house. Always have and you guessed it, I'm the GOOD cop. I've always been the emotional cornerstone of our small family and my husband the disciplinarian. Fortunately, we never had serious problems with our kids. They had a tendency to choose their friends wisely, did well in school (most of the time), and are compassionate young people of whom I'm extremely proud. We've always been quick with praise when it's deserved or willing to "have a talk" when things went wrong.
But kids do grow up and mistakes happen. What is it about our kids turning 18 and suddenly they're supposed to be grown and capable of making life decisions? The chief question kids are asked when they're ready to graduate are: where are you going to school? What are you majoring in? Honestly. I've asked those same questions but later remember the period before I graduated from high school. I had no CLUE what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. None. At 18 the world seems full of hope and possibilities and the roads ahead led in many directions. Sometimes those roads can lead a kid the wrong way and as a parent, you ache for those bad decisions. Perhaps we come face to face with our own wrong decisions and remember trying hard to climb out of that ditch in the road and getting back on track.
As parents, we want to help with that. Remember that poem that says...if you love it, let it go? Read it when I was a teenager and thought it was beautiful and applied to romantic love. I've always been a sap. But now I realize, it could just as well be talking to parents out there who have a hard time letting their children go, make their mistakes, and eventually, grow up. It's as painful as birth. As definite as death. Our kids do grow up, just some more slowly than others. Sometimes tough love is necessary, even for a loving parent. So is 18 a magic number for adulthood? Twenty? Twenty-two? Who knows?
Our backyard is full of Dove and the other day I counted around twenty babies pecking away on the ground, their mothers close by. Tiny little things. Sweet. They got out of the nest somehow, I realized, watching them. Yep. Their mothers pushed them out! Nature does have a way of taking care of those things.