How does it happen so fast, one minute you are running around after your toddlers and teaching them everything and the next they are teenagers and teaching you things!
This weekend marked another milestone in the life of my family, my two lovely teenagers have naturally progressed into independent young people. It was a slow transition but one I have been realising is happening faster than I could ever have imagined.
My 15 year old daughter went off on a camping trip with her Scouting / Ventures group this weekend and told me that they wouldn't have time to use their phones, on one side I was delighted that they were allowing themselves to be totally immersed in nature and learning to live a totally technology free weekend, on the other, a little anxiety crept into my mind on not being able to contact her, I had to let it go and trust.
My 17 year old son was going to a friend's party in Dublin on Friday night and had to get the bus to Dublin, a first for him also. Then he would be partying and heading into the city with said friends, my heart beat a little faster as again I worried that he would not be able for the big city and would feel overwhelmed. Not a chance, they were my fears and worries, he seen it as one big adventure and when he returned yesterday, he had great stories to tell and loved every minute of it, meeting new people and having new experiences that every young person thrives on.
The years of feeling exhausted and frustrated as a young parent are suddenly distant memories when your children don't need you as much as they used to. They are now quite willing and able to fend for themselves in many regards, especially in your suggestions for how they should live their lives. I have come to realise that my version of how life should be is very different from their version. I am told on many occassions "Mom that is not how we think these days" and they are so right.
For many of my generation and even generations before that, we lived as others told us to do so. We were bound to hyprocritical views on religion and state, believing what we were told until we knew better. My children have taught me to question life more, to not just accept what is said to be fact, their questions have opened my mind and my heart to other ideas about life.
They also drive me crazy at times and no matter what I say it is not right, but to them it is not, but I have learned over the years to listen to their point of view before shoving my point of view down their necks, just because we are adults does not always make us right! They also surprise me when they repeat things I have said in the past, so I know somewhere along the way they are listening, even if they will never give in to say they were.
Like any mother, I know my children are not perfect as there is no such thing, but I always praise them for effort and trying to do their best. I have told them that no matter what they do is life is fine with me just as long as they are happy in whatever they do. They have many choices and options to explore and I will never tell them that they 'can't' be anything they want to be, of course they can, they can be whatever they want.
I sit writing this blog today with excitement but also a little emotional that my children are growing up. They each have their own personalities with traits from both myself and their Dad thrown in the mix, it makes for lively and fun conversations at the dinner table. I am excited that they have dreams of their own yet to be realised and with or without our support they will achieve them. They too must follow their heart and the best way to teach our children to do that is to follow our own. It doesn't matter what age you are, you can still achieve anything you set your mind to.
What my children have taught me is unconditional love, they are my greatest teachers in life. I am with them every step of the way as long as they want me to be there, but when they don't, I will gently step to the side and support them from a distance, knowing that they will return when they want to. Our children are only on loan to us for a little while, we help them to grow up strong and secure in the knowledge that they have a place in this world to shine their light in whatever way they want.
My only advise to any young Mother now is to give yourself a break, you are doing the best that you can. Let your children play in the muck and dance in the rain. Let them explore the world little by little, encourage them to be independent and to strive for their dreams. But most of all, just love them for who they are.