This guy turned 21 recently.
The baby, the last of four to reach such a big milestone.
I’m not going to lie, it hurt. It hurt BAD. And it surprised me how much it hurt.
You see, he’s one of four. It’s not like I didn’t see it coming. The first one turns 21 and it’s a little painful and then the second. His sister turned 21 in December but it wasn’t until this guy turned 21 a couple of weeks ago that it hit me that NOW all of my children are legal adults.
NOW my work of actively raising children is pretty well finished.
NOW I’m no longer the mother of children. I’m the mother of adults.
I felt like someone hit me in the chest with a speeding train.
I posted on Facebook because I knew some of the women there would understand.
And they did. In fact, one woman said:
Sounds to me like you’ve done an awesome job with your kids. On to the next great adventure in life, with your grown kids by your side, cheering you on, enriching your life with theirs.
I cried off and on for two or three days. My husband was extra sweet to me, bought flowers, took me out to dinner and held me while I cried.
It didn’t help that the day after his 21st birthday he went to Alabama with several classmates for a big trade show. His first time off making memories that had nothing to do with the core family. While he was there he was also interviewing for jobs that will take him far from home for the summer. THAT was also tough.
I imagine, in my very imaginative brain, that it’s a little like going to prison. You’ve been tried and sentenced and you know you are going to jail but it doesn’t really hit you until the door to your freedom gets slammed shut.
I blame watching Orange is the New Black on that bit.
I knew it was coming. I’ve been preparing myself for a few years now. Knowing that one day very soon my children were going to grow up and be independent. But it was that fourth 21st birthday was the act that felt like slamming the door on my youth.
I’m no longer the mother of young children. Long gone are the days of schlepping young people around, lying awake half the night – night after night- listening for them to come home (though I still do sometimes since the youngest is still at home going to college). Gone are the dances, football games, marching band and all of the stuff that came with kids.
Both good and bad.
I find myself standing solidly in MIDLIFE land and the first few days were kind of rough. But life is funny. It keeps going.
We humans are pretty resilient. The novel becomes the norm.
We find new routines, new work to focus our minds on,
new things to obsessively worry about, and new things to look forward to.
I looked around at my family on Sunday during family dinner last week and wondered where all the time went. How did they get to be adults so soon?
Followed quickly by, “Gosh, I like these people!”
And I knew everything was going to be all right.