Life stages and no more teenagers

Adorable husky for no reason, photo from Unsplash

My youngest turned 20 on Saturday.

I’ve been a bit weepy lately about kids and parents, life stages, and all that. Maybe it’s menopause, maybe it’s moving, maybe it’s my knee, maybe it’s all these things

If you have sons and you’re worried about their futures, and their relationship with one another, go read Brother by David Chariandry. Brother is a stunning novel, beautiful and heart breaking, but it might make you cry. I’m crying anyway so it’s okay.

Also, the audio book is wonderful.

Of course 20, like 50, is just a number but it means I’m no longer the parent of teenagers. That’s been a huge part of my identity.

I’ve loved parenting teenagers. It’s been the hardest and most rewarding part of parenting. During the best/worst of it I once posted to Facebook about thinking there ought to be parental leave for parents of teenagers. Turns out I’m not the first person to have this idea. See here.

It’s all of the ‘meaning of life’ stuff and the navigating first serious adult relationships that was challenging. Add to that first jobs, learning to drive, and school getting serious. Oh, and sprinkle it all with experiments involving drugs and alcohol. So not easy.

Mostly I think of parenting as a gender neutral thing but sometimes I’ve felt like the ‘mother of teenagers’ like the ‘mother of dragons.’ Teenagers are a lot like dragons.

I terrified friends with babies and toddlers by offering to swap for some weekends. I looked fondly back on the years when their needs were simple and obvious: food, books, hugs, sleep, etc.

But I also loved having a full house of their friends… the ballet dancers, the football players, the various choirs. We could never decide if it was a good thing or a bad thing that the hot tub served as a teenager magnet. Mostly though I liked having them at home.

I know I’m not going straight into the empty nest years. One of the twenty somethings still lives at home and another is just away at university. And we’re planning active summer holidays together. Weekends with canoes, bikes, and hiking/camping.

But life with teenagers is over and I’m sad about that.