Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The scariest stage in my life as a parent

Each stage in a child's life brings new fears to parents. So far I've managed to get 1 of the 4 to adulthood without any major screw ups that I am aware of.

When she was a newborn everything scared me. The first time she threw up a lot, the first 'odd' poop, the first rash...the list was pretty much endless. I'll be glad when she's older and I don't have to worry as much is what I thought.

As a toddler it was the bumps and bruises, falling down things, running into things. Not to mention the stuff toddlers get into. Once I found her trying to open a bottle of children's medicine. Another time she was trying to climb into the oven. I'll be glad when she's older and I don't have to worry as much is what I thought.

She grew older and my fears changed. In elementary school I worried that she would not make friends or fall behind in classes. I worried that she would get sick from all the new germs or get hurt falling off the playground equipment.

In Middle school I worried that she would give into pressure and smoke, drink or try drugs. I worried that she would never pick her grades back up and be doomed to a life of flipping burgers. I was terrified that she would get caught up in that cutting trend that so many middle schoolers are into. Her use of the internet scared me and not without reason. To catch a predator is a horrible show for parents of middle schoolers to watch.

By high school I was worried that she didn't get enough sleep, and that she would never move past her first boyfriend who had been too controlling. I worried every time she got into a car with her friends. I didn't have to worry about her actually driving. She's never learned and doesn't plan to. She mostly lives her life without cars.

Her move into the dorms brought back the fears about drinking, drugs and now sex. It also brought new fears about strangers that lurk around college campuses instead of playgrounds.

At each stage I thought that I would be glad when she's older and I don't have to worry as much.

Then came the scariest and probably most long lasting stage.

She moved into her own place and I have no control over her life. It started when she was still in the dorms. She could go places and I wouldn't know about it. She didn't have to tell me the when/where like she did when she lived at home. Still, I had some control and influence because she was still reliant upon me for some things.
The day she moved into her place and started paying all her own bills was the day I had to trust that I had done my job and she could take it from there on out. Don't get me wrong, I have faith that she can, but it's still scary. you spend so many years protecting them and then you have to stop. It's hard.

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