Old School Parenting

Conversations with Adult Kids 


Pond Fishing
JB Collection

As we struggle through our review of my adult kids’ childhood, it’s hard to look at it as a reflection of the cultural times. We want to compare my mothering to how mothering is done today. Of course, it just won’t fit in.

To compound the problem inherent in our current review, is the number of children and how each child affected each other and how each child’s life reflects a different developmental stage of me as mom.

My kids’ lives live in my chest. I can feel the pull right in the middle of my breast. It is also where I feel the pain and the anger. At times, it had been suffocating.

I had my first child at age 15. Much like the comedian says of his 15 year old mother, “she and I grew up together”. As a mother, I couldn’t say “back in the day…” because he was there with me back in the day.

My first born was divine. He was perfect, he was absolutely out of this world. I loved watching him and talking to him. From the first day that he was born, I spoke to him and his baby brother, as if they were adults.

Madonna & Baby Doll
JB Collection

We had full conversations when they were two and three years old. I recall sitting in a McDonalds when a stranger sitting next to us, leaned over and said, “you three are amazing, keep it up”.

We kept up the conversations, but the amazing got lost somewhere. I lived my whole life around what the boys were doing, even after the girls came. The boys played high school football, I washed pounds and pounds of white socks and underwear. We took our weary selves to the football games on chilly November nights to watch them play. The girls went running through the stands, meeting friends and laughing as they played.

The boys are so much older than the girls, that by the time the girls became tweens and teenagers, the boys were gone: Army, college and Army.

Finally, I left their father (filing for a divorce); I thought I was doing the right thing for my kids. It turns out that living alone with kids and having no back up plan is much more difficult than I could have possibly imagined. I had the job, I simply had no other resources, no family, no rainy-day fund, no home and no help. Panic attacks and anxiety were recurring themes in my life.

I rented houses for us and ended up with bully landlords. They would demand access to my home on Saturday mornings when I was into the deepest recesses of my exhaustion. Then they would sneer at me. I was wrong. I was wrong as a renter, as a human, I was wrong as a mother.

My life was a nightmare for all of those years. I hardly slept. It was a constant challenge to manage my daughters. All our spare money went to those challenges: Attorney’s fees, long distance phone calls to boyfriends, special testing, therapy sessions.

Whatever life was doing to me, double it, for what it was doing to my teenage daughters. Life was harsh for the three of us. We simply struggled our way into their twenties.

Incredibly, I was doing the best that I could. Every.single.day.of.every.single.week. I was doing everything I could to be a good parent. It wasn’t enough. I made mistakes. I trusted the wrong people. I ran out of energy and I was always out of money.

The fascination I have with all of them, never left me. I participated in many of their adult decisions. I moved with them, I spent weekends with them, I kept pace with the fast moving people they are.

And so, here we are. They have children, and for the most part, are doing a better job than I did. Now, we are having these difficult conversations about their childhoods.

As angry as they can get with me for failing them when they were young; I can’t say that I did a bad job.

I tried as hard as I could. We survived a world that was made up of bloodsuckers who thrived on taking from the weak and the vulnerable. The weak and the vulnerable included me and it included us.

However, the real reason that I believe I did a good job is because, these adults that are mine, are amazing people. Each and every one of my adult children are caring and loving people. They are VERY involved with their own offspring, there is no such thing as child neglect in their families. They struggle, they work hard, they give themselves over to what they do. What hard workers they are!

And yes, I continue in my fascination. I love them, I adore them. That will never change.