Type into Google: “Having a child is like…” and what comes up?
Immediately, and without much competition, these two adages take center stage in that search:
“Having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face. You really need to be certain it’s what you want before you commit.” Elizabeth Gilbert
“Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ” Elizabeth Stone
We all know those quotes about what it’s like to have a child. We’ve heard them all. They sound dramatic: A tattoo on your face and an internal, crucial-to-life, organ hanging out outside one’s body engenders a pretty visceral reaction. Yet, if you are one of those who have a child, you know these don’t even hold a candle to what it can really feel like – at times.
The Parent-Child Relationship Mystifies Me:
“Do we have an adage about the financial drain these ridiculous gadgets can be?”
This week I had the fortuitous opportunity to see my 21-year-old son for a couple of nights. In general, Aidan’s independence is a force to be reckoned with, and our meetings are as rare as a unicorn sighting. But this time, fate (and a canceled trip) conspired to bring us together. To make a long and dull story less so, circumstances provided an opportunity for both my son and I to meet up in Charlotte, NC at my sister’s house for two nights this week.
Now, let’s talk about 21-year-olds, shall we? They always seem to need something, don’t they? Or is that just my luck? Aidan strolled in with a malfunctioning phone that made my credit card whimper in agony. Do we have an adage about the financial drain these ridiculous gadgets can be? Take your pick as to what I mean by gadget – the phone or the kid.
Just to prove it to me, he let me watch his iPhone randomly text gibberish to some of his lesser-known contacts. Isn’t that always the case? If my phone butt-dials anyone, it’s usually someone I don’t know that well.
Off we went to the South Park Apple store in Charlotte, where we sacrificed a sunny fall day and a small fortune to revive his digital lifeline. Four-plus hours later, we emerged victorious with two functioning phones and a depleted wallet.
The Moments We Live For:
“This visit yielded many positive real experiences between us. We were in the moment, enjoying one another’s company.”
That evening, whilst enjoying an Aidan-requested meal, my son was a ray of sunshine. He regaled us with humorous tales of some of the quirkier customers at the Gem Mine (his place of employment.) He gleefully showed off his new roller skates and shared tales of his Friday Night Rink antics. The skates actually came out of the box, so he could give us a light show courtesy of the light-up wheels on his skates.
It had been a while since I experienced my son in such a positive, delightful manner. Previous departures were met with a quiet sigh of relief, a return to my peaceful, empty nest. There’s just so much staying up way late, sleeping in most of the day, and the collection of glassware and snack bags strewn about the bedroom floor that my 59-year-old can take. It is not uncommon for me to be ready for him to take his 21-year-old lifestyle back to his apartment. It does not align with my 59-year-old lifestyle – period.
This visit was different. This visit yielded many positive real experiences between us. We were in the moment, enjoying one another’s company.
Try Something New In The Parent-Child Relationship:
You might wonder, what changed this time in our parent-child relationship? Well, I decided to zip it. Yes, I kept my mouth firmly shut about the lifestyle choices that baffle my 59-year-old brain. Why, you ask? Because reality check: they don’t have to make sense to me. Nagging, suggesting, or attempting to shame him into a different path is a futile exercise. His 20-some-thingness is here to stay, like it or not. So, I let go of the futile attempts to mold him into a mini-me. It makes us both losers.
So what happened?
What happened is that the second he walked out my sister’s door to head back to work in Boone, I burst into tears. I am not a particularly sentimental person. I don’t have a massive collection of Aidan’s childhood memorabilia. For the most part, I don’t need to celebrate a holiday or particular day a certain way, and I am not much for tears. This unanticipated reaction surprised me at my core. As I confessed earlier, other times as the exit time approached I was relieved to get my quiet, empty nest, old woman’s life back. This time my heart hopped into that beat-up jalopy of a car, and as it drove off, I was left with an indelible mark.