I knew it was coming, this was no surprise. She’s 18, and she likes to have her own space. With three little sisters always fangirling on her, even sleeping alone isn’t guaranteed.
I knew it was coming, this was no surprise. But it’s got me thinking.
It’s an odd place to be in. I have one child moved out, then my next oldest is 7 years old. Still young enough to love me more than anything in the world. I have three kids that are still young enough to believe that my word is law, and that I can see through walls and read their minds.
All the times the moms tell you that it happens so fast, to not miss the sweet moments, and to appreciate the love little kids have, even when they are being so needy you could scream. I get it. This morning, I woke up knowing that my oldest daughter’s stuff was all gone from my home, and my youngest was laying in my bed with me. I don’t mind. She’s the last, in sha Allah, so she gets to snuggle with me a bit longer.
It’s like night and day – last night I was trying to impart words of advice seemingly to a brick wall, and in my arms in the morning is one who I worry is so malleable to my words that I worry I will say the wrong thing and she’ll carry a scar with her for the rest of her life.
What gets me the most, what was most unexpected, is how many things I wish I did differently, how I put my parenting under a microscope, and brow beat myself for every infraction.
While they are at home, there’s still hope that you can be that ideal parent, that you can be their confidante and support system. When they move out, it feels like any hope for a better, fuller relationship is gone. It will only be less from now on. I will see her less, talk to her less, and our relationship will be less.
As I look back through my own years as a teen growing into adulthood, I know that’s not necessarily true, but I’m now in uncharted territory. My own experience moving out as a pregnant 16 year old is not something I can draw from as an example for how to move forward. This is all new.
I don’t know what the future holds. I know that life is not a straight line, even though the what-ifs haunt me. I don’t know when I’ll see her next, and all the while I have to help my young kids manage their own feelings of missing her.
And what to do with her room? Good grief, I don’t even know.
My three young kids all sleep in the same room, at first just because I wanted to have a real school room (accomplished! Alhamdulilah), but now they are used to it. My oldest had her own room, and I logically thought the next oldest would take it over, but she doesn’t want to sleep alone. None of them do. Do I keep it as-is, as some kind of shrine to my oldest, when actually she only slept there half the week anyway, plus she took all her personal belongings? Do I remodel it as a guest room? I’d imagine one of the young kids will eventually want their own room, so nothing at this point would be permanent.
It’s an unfinished thing. I guess much like the relationship with my oldest daughter. It’s unfinished, even though I have to fight the feeling that her busy-ness and unavailability are forever etched in stone.
I also have to remind myself that she’s well. She holds down a job without any issue, that she graduated high school, and has plans for attending college after a little brain-break. My qualms of how much Mountain Dew she drinks, or how many Cheetos she eats, or how many overtime hours she works pale in comparison to the worries that many parents go through in these years.
Gah. There are a lot of things to remind myself.
For those that aren’t yet to this stage in your kids’ life, the cliche rings true: make the most of the relationship with your little kids while it’s there. At some point it feels like your influence expires. Love them, be gentle, understanding, and kind. And don’t forget to teach them how to do the dishes and wash their own clothes.
Reminding myself first.