The Unncessary Parent?
As teens get older and get a taste of independence (read: their driver's license), parents grapple with the changing nature of how much they're needed. The transition has MomSpeaker Shivaun Williams somewhat wistful for her days as an overprotective party-guest mom.
When you're the parent of an adolescent, you spend many weeknights, over dinner, discussing their sudden disdain for red meat and their plans for the future. There is a lot of head shaking and uncertainty in these trying years. It's exciting and frightening to watch a young person plot their course and begin to figure out their life; all while needing to be reminded to clear their plate once they've finished sliding all of that uneaten meat from one side to the other.
Quite often, parents of teens can find themselves in the same flux, wondering where they go from here, now that their services have become increasingly unnecessary. Children who can suddenly drive themselves from point A to B, and even pick up younger siblings along the way, need the physical presence of parents less and less. Granted, these same kids still totally need their lunches packed, but they don't necessarily need to be chaperoned to a birthday party. In fact, they don't even attend birthday parties anymore. They hang out with their friends, a lot, instead.
When my oldest was in Kindergarten, she attended an average of three birthdays parties per month. Because turning 6 is a really big deal. I'll tell you that I was overprotective at the time, because I don't feel like finding a stronger word that can convey how bad I was.
In an effort to never have my child out of my sight, I attended every one of those birthday parties with her. I realize, now, what my presence really conveyed. "Hi, we're here for Billy's party. Yes, I'll be over there in the corner judging your choice of party food, party games, but most of all making sure no one steals, harms or breaks my precious child." Wherein, the party Mom would politely direct me to the back of the room, to the old couch already filled with the other moms just like me. All of them awkwardly sitting at the edge of the cushions, looking uncomfortable in a sea of kids and balloons.
It would take a few years before realizing that a child's birthday party invitation was, indeed, a free pass, and one should take advantage whenever possible.
But like most things in life, by the time you've figured it out….it's over.
Shivaun Williams is a Bucks County, PA writer and mom of three. This post is adapted from her blog, Dar Liomsa (In My Opinion).