A friend was talking the other day about her granddaughter. She described the typical conversation about the developmental scale. Is she walking? Is she talking? Where is she as compared to other children? My friend said her daughter was surprised that some parents don’t remember the age their children started walking or achieved one of the many milestones we measure. As we were talking about this, we realized the tremendous importance society has placed on this and how we as parents buy into the hype. Is there something wrong with my child if they aren’t doing this thing by this time? She had me laughing because she said, our parents and grandparents, had one scale to measure successful parenting by, “Is the child still alive? Yes? Success!” They let us grow at the rate that we grew. But at some point, this changed. We became almost hyper-focused on some of these metrics. And yes, I mean the royal we.
Recently, I was offered the opportunity for my younger children to live with me again. So I get to move for the third time in as many years. But I digress. The younger two are 21 years old and employed-ish. My children are all pretty amazing, if I do say so myself. Keeping it all the way real, they are young adults, each with their own unique challenges, but I am so proud of them. Well as it turns out, they need to move back home, which is a pretty common occurrence. But for me, I was wrestling with this. I said to my friend, “I thought they’d be farther along than this.” She asked me what I meant. I explained that when I was their age, I was eager to be on my own. I remember being a young girl dreaming of a future when I would have my first apartment in Dallas. By 22, I had my own apartment in Dallas and I loved it! It wasn’t as glamorous as the modern loft that I pictured, but it was mine. I knew how to hustle and I did what it took to make it work. I worked multiple jobs if I needed to and sometimes just because I wanted to; I found out quickly that it gets boring sitting at home alone in your own apartment.
Anyway, I didn’t realize until today that I’d created my own “acceptable” timeline for growth and development, and I measured three of the kids this way. “By this age, I was doing blah. Why is this so flippin’ difficult? Plus, I’ve made it so easy for you. You don’t have to struggle like I did.” Yay, me! Mission accomplished, they didn’t struggle like I did. What I didn’t factor in is they struggled like they did. Just because I did the best that I could to minimize pain and shield them from just about, well, everything, it didn’t eliminate all challenges. I couldn’t stop situations and circumstances from negatively impacting them. These things make a difference.
My friend and I talked for awhile about this. As parents, there’s a lot of trial and error but it’s all based on our desire to do what’s best for our children. She said, it’s hard because you never know if what you’re doing is right. If only there was A/B testing in parenting. But, alas, we take our one shot and we pray for the best.
So while I know this isn’t a do-over and I know it won’t be all sunshine and rainbows, I am thankful for the chance to have them back in the house with me again. Don’t get it twisted, I loved my clean one-bedroom apartment, with undamaged furniture and usually only grapes in the refrigerator. But I get to spend time with some awesome humans. I have an opportunity to deepen my relationship with them and help them be everything they are called to be. I also get to learn from them and become all that I’m called to be. I get to see them almost daily and love them right where they are, just as they are.