There she is, eighteen years ago.
Tiny. Smiling. Our beloved Madeline: princess/tomboy/organizer/leader/. She sometimes responds to” Duchess of Birmingham” .
She’s all grown up now, but I’m still her mother. I will always be her mother.
How does one mother an adult?
One of my greatest fears was that I’d have a house full of “basement dwellers”: young adults who resisted that fledgling stage and never took flight. That has not been the case at all. Each one of our kids is fully engaged in a life of purpose. What surprises me is that I am not sure what to do with myself. The thing is, there are many books out discussing how to effectively parent infants, toddlers and adolescents. I memorized the big ideas there. Just ask…. I’ve not seen many that instruct you on the “do’s and don’ts of mothering young adults”. I have felt like I’m walking blind-folded, feeling my way around in the dark. Having no guide has left me vulnerable. I’m a big idea gal and I haven’t a clue how to do this.
Grad party time. She rocked the academic world; worked several nights flipping pizzas; SHE wants to organize and plan the party. Okay, but then what do I do?
We did the arm wrestle for a few weeks: She wants a color theme; that is silly, to me. She wants a chocolate fountain, I don’t know what that is. She wants centers for the tables that match the color theme, I wonder how she will deal with the fact that the grass doesn’t jive with her plan. For a few days I wondered if she just thought I was incapable.
Truth: She only asked that I make my potato salad and show up, looking better than average .
Rather than arm wrestle her about her color choices, I decided I should just ask this key question:
How Can I Help?
Did you hear that? This is important. Changing how I viewed it changed everything.
As adults mothering young adults, we need to understand that the scale is tipping quickly. Remember how they needed you for everything? Well, you taught and caught and before you know it, they are negotiating everything all by themselves. The relationship changes and your mothering role looks and feels different. It is wise to roll with that.
Besides, one project can only have one mother. One. There is a point where your shepherding no longer works and instead you sit beside them and ask “how can I help?”
I suspect I am there. We’ve both hit a developmental milestone.
Rock on, Madeline. You are a leader. You are strong. I will remain your first and LOUDEST cheerleader! xoxo