Between Us: When kids grow up

The last time I wrote a column for a newspaper, I was a mere 38 years old. My daughter, The Girl, hadn’t graduated high school yet, and my son, The Boy, wasn’t even a twinkle in the metaphoric eye of Gilroy’s South Valley Middle School.
Since then, The Husband has started a new career. The Girl is now the proud owner of a bright and shiny bachelor’s degree, and The Boy is embarking on his first job and final year of high school. And me? I am (ahem) older.
It’s been a wild seven years full of life.
Newish cars were purchased and old ones passed down. Dead houseplants were traded for future dead houseplants, and a child’s bedroom was turned into a theater room and then back into an adult child’s room after college.
The Husband and I rediscovered our youth, as we can now leave “the kids” at home and have dates anytime we want and for as long as we want … like real people, with real lives.
Don’t get me wrong; I love the kids and I loved raising them. But when you marry young and begin to have a family within a couple of years, a person in their mid-20s and 30s might think that’s all there is to life: drop off and pick up the kids from daycare and school, go to work and the grocery store, help the kids with homework, cook dinner, put the kids to bed, go to bed, wake up, and repeat for the next 15 years. It’s a long road, right?
So imagine my happiness, as I sat in the hot Riverside sun a few short weeks ago, when The Girl’s name was announced over the P.A. to come and take her hard-earned praise for endless study sessions, papers written and chapters read. It was the beginning of the life her dad and I knew would be great.
It’s still a work in progress. I’m wondering how to let the adult child know that dishes sitting in the sink past noon are not okay. Or how to let her know it really is OK to clean up the barbecue sauce smudges left on the kitchen counter from dinner. Or how to not freak out when she wants to leave the house at 10 p.m. to go to the gym.
And how to pretend that I’m totally fine with the fact that she doesn’t have to let me know where she’s going, because it’s not actually my business.
I’m learning that I can’t have it both ways. Because my independence also equals hers.
First jobs and graduations; it all goes by so fast. I’m just glad I never had to trade them in, like my never-ending supply of future dead houseplants.
Email Kelly Sinon at [email protected]

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