She’s the one who made me a mama. And, I’m not gonna lie, I often get sad missing her littleness. I laugh thinking about how she used to wear all the pink and sequins possible, while today eschewing dressing up in favor of jeans and leggings. If you saw the beautiful art that she creates, you’d never know that I couldn’t coax her to draw anything other than brown circles for the first six or seven years of her life. Even her introverted self can’t make me forget her impromptu concerts she gave wherever we would go.
When she was three, she sat at the counter watching me make her peanut butter toast or scrambled eggs for breakfast. Now she dashes out the door in the morning, and we meet to go thrift shopping when she gets off work. One of our favorite games when she was a toddler was her making me a “latte” or “mocha” on her coffee play set and me pretending it was so hot that it burned me. But now we sip our coffees early at a local coffee shop before heading into our busy days.
It’s an interesting thing, this transition of parenting. My daughter will always be my daughter, but our relationship is changing, growing, and being redefined in many ways. We’re both feeling our way through this and navigating the changes. Sometimes I have to remind myself that while it can be a struggle for me, it’s also tough for her. Growing pains don’t stop once you’re full grown.
Most of my daughter’s peers left home immediately after graduating from high school to attend college. Since her plans were different, and she’s still living at home, it’s been tricky to figure out how our roles change. I don’t have a list for you, a “1-2-3” for dealing with children who are now adults. Hey, I need that list!
There are certainly logistics involved, things that are understood by all of us. She has financial obligations to us every month, still contributes to the household by way of chores, making dinner, and driving her siblings around, and must follow some general house rules just like the rest of us. We’ve bumped up against those at times, but nothing we can’t handle. And, there is still advice we give, reminders about responsibility, parenting in an ever-changing way.
Y’all, it’s really cool to start becoming my kid’s friend. I’m this hyper-extrovert who tends toward the unemotional and practical, while my daughter is an introverted, sensitive, talented artist who often thinks in the abstract. This can create tension, yet also creates so much space for conversation and consideration. When she discusses an issue or problem, I can see it through new eyes. Her perspective, even when I disagree, can shake up my own myopic views and help me better understand her (and others).
Last night, I sat in the living room with her and my husband after the other kids were all in bed, and we discussed struggles of faith, opinions about drinking alcohol, tragedies around us, politically-charged issues, and family dynamics. I’m thankful that I have a daughter who WANTS to be an integral part of our family, despite her age. What a gift that she’s working out our shifting relationship alongside me. I’m guessing that if I write about this again in a few years, I’ll have more to add and things to change. Maybe by the time I work through this with my sixth, I’ll be an expert.