Parenting Encouraged Me to Become a Grown Up

Carol Lennox

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Neon sign that says, "Love 24 hours.Photo by Wyron A

Photo by Wyron A on Unsplash

I read a quote which stuck with me, even though I don’t recall who wrote it.

“When you have a child, your heart forever lives outside your body.”

Once the decision is made, or made for you, to have a baby, parenthood begins. And, like it or not, it never ends. And that’s the way it should be.

For some of us, parenting begins with the news we are pregnant. Once I knew, I immediately started to reexamine my life and lifestyle, and worried about money and supporting my little one. It was instinctive, and a wake up call.

I was in graduate school and managing a band and booking music venues. I was starting my own band with me as lead singer.

This was before venues banned smoking, so I decided there would be no more smoke filled bars for me and the new life inside me. It was time to start adulting for real.

When I felt the first flutters, I began researching names. When I came across “Blake,” he kicked. The name means both black and white in old English, and my Blake is half Black.

No one and nothing can prepare you for parenthood. I knew that even as a teen. While others were anxious to have a baby so they would have someone to love them, I realized you don’t have a baby, you have a person, and that person will be dependent on your love and care for at least eighteen years. That thought is the closest I came to understanding the commitment I would finally make over twenty years later.

As it turned out, I was the only parent of the two of us who made the full-time commitment. Which means that during all the everyday, tantrum throwing, learning to walk and talk, sleepless nights, feeding the baby, walking the floor with him during colic, singing a lullaby over and over so that I still hum it twenty-five years later, I was the only adult in the room.

I saw a T-shirt once that had written on it,
“Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult.”

That’s exactly how I felt for most of his growing up years. I was never the PTA room mother type, but I did take a job that gave me the most time with him. I attended every basketball game from his first one at age three, to his last college game at age twenty-one, and some league games after that.

I was the parent who had my finger on the pulse of what he and his friends were up to in high school. When they wanted to go to a questionable party, I called or went and checked it out first. I made sure I was the one who drove them.

One was in a club in a part of town with abandoned buildings. It was a party for kids at a rival school. I know because my son told me the address, a requirement in our home. He told me who was going from his basketball team, and I texted two of them to wait until I checked it out. I got there and the club was next to a Bail Bondsman. I consider that a bad sign.

It was indeed a club with liquor, although the owner assured me the kids couldn’t and wouldn’t drink. I asked the two women setting up if they knew that a large group of kids from the rival school were planning to come, and they were shocked. Nope, their kids hadn’t told them.

I left and texted each boy, telling them it was a bar, where people had been arrested enough to have a bail bondsman at the ready, and the grown-ups didn’t know they were invited. One of them (not my son) texted back,

“Does that mean we can’t go?”

Um, yes. That’s what that means. Unless you want me to call your parents. He didn’t.

Even though I was THAT parent, the boys hung out at our house. From slumber parties when they were six, to me waking up and cooking breakfast for a houseful of teenagers all taller than I am, with facial hair and deep voices. They were all still kids to me. They still are at ages twenty-six, twenty-seven.and twenty-eight.

Many of them stay in contact with me. I think I walked the shaky line between friend and adult fairly well. I was the Mom they could talk to and ask questions of, knowing I wouldn’t judge them. Some of them still reach out when they are hurt or confused.

I did make mistakes. I had put off acting like an adult for a large part of my life, so I wasn’t perfect at it. There were many times I felt I was in over my head. However, when I made mistakes, I apologized, and worked not to make them again. I hope it all evened out.

Once, when my son wanted to go to a party, I told him he knew the rules. I had to talk with the adults who would be there. He didn’t have their number, so I told him no. He yelled,

“Why do you have to be such a bad Mom?” and stormed off, slamming his door.

I waited calmly. Ten minutes later, he came out and said,

“Okay! Why do you have to be such a good Mom?”

For someone who originally had a hard time being a full adult, this was the best confirmation that I had finally made it.

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My purpose is to inspire and inform. You can read more by me on Medium.com/@carollennox, and on the Good Men Project. I've had a lifetime of valuable experiences, and I want to share the lessons I've learned readily, or been forced to learn. I'm a psychotherapist, a hypnotherapist, a mother to my amazing son, Blake Scott, whom I write about often. I also write about race, equality, social justice, sex, government, and Mindfulness, not in that order.

Austin, TX
2275 followers

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