My children are getting older. My boys will be turning 20 next month (very weird) and my daughter was 17 in May and soon to finish year 12. I’ve now been through many phases of parenting and I’d have to say this phase is the toughest!
Oh don’t get me wrong – there are many great things about having children this age! I don’t get woken up at night. I don’t have to bath them or feed them (apart from cooking their meals) or watch them through the day. I can take off and leave the house at the drop of a hat and leave them here to fend for themselves!! It’s less physically demanding but oh my hat my foot – this is the most anxiety raising phase I’ve encountered yet! I am now MY mother – waiting up at night, pacing the house till they are home safely. I’m the happiest when all my chicks are safe in the nest! Meanwhile Mr MM is snoring away in bed. How do they do that??!!
I’m sure you’ve heard that saying “you’ve got to let go of the apron strings” or “you’ve got to cut the apron strings”. Well stuff who ever made that saying up – hide the bloody apron, its strings and the scissors! I’m not ready yet!! Bit by bit I have let the apron strings stretch……but I’m not ready to let go of them or cut them!!
When you become a mum, this tigress comes out of nowhere and becomes part of you. Protect! Keep Safe! Keep Healthy! Provide good nutrition! Ensure good hygiene! etc etc….
When your kids are little, this tigress has control and you can hear her purr from miles away – such a happy kitty she is. Tired…but happy! You know where your kids are all the time. You choose where they can and cannot go. You bath them, wash their hair, take them to get their hair cut, decide what they wear, brush their teeth, teach them how to brush their teeth, nag them to brush their teeth. You feed them. You take them to the doctors if they are sick. You give them medication. You arrange play dates. You cook healthy meals and they are always there to eat them.
The stretching of the apron strings begins when they start kindergarten. Well that was the first thing my kids went to in the year they were 3 turning 4. They are around children you don’t know, exposed to language and behaviour that you’re not always aware of and don’t always approve of…and of course they pick up bugs and get sick a lot more. That’s ok though – this first foray into apron stretching is doable and manageable and survivable! You still know where they are and have the majority of control over their safety and wellbeing.
They move on to preschool and primary school and it is mostly more of the same – doable, manageable and survivable!
Then comes high school and the teens hit and here some serious apron stretching starts happening – particularly from about 15-17. They go to parties, the movies, and they go with their friends to the city or Southbank. You think you know where they are and who they are with…but do you really know for sure? This is where trust comes in and where you hope that all your morals and everything you have taught them has rubbed off and that they are sensible and don’t lie to you! Your ability to keep them safe is lessened and the anxiety levels raise a little. They start going out into the big wide world which lets face it – does have some crazy weird scary people in it!
At least these days we have mobile phones on which we can contact our kids! How did my parents cope when I was a teenager and there was no way to contact me?!
Then at 16 they get their L’s. Yes they start learning to drive! Your baby – out on the roads! This has not been an easy phase for me. Kids these days in Queensland need to get 100 hours of driving time accrued before they can do a driving test. Then they get their P’s. L = Learner P = Provisional. I can’t take my kids for driving lessons – it just freaks me out!! There is no brake on the passenger side for heaven’s sake – agghh! Mr MM gets this job with some paid professional lessons thrown in as well. There is a whole story I could do on this but I will leave it here for now! 🙂
There is also the matter of their friends starting to drive them everywhere. This has been hard enough with my boys. Boys who I don’t know (uni friends I assume) turn up and off they go with my boy in their car. One day some young man I have never met and who frankly looked quite um .. scary .. picked up Twin2 and then proceeded to fishtail out of my street!! It is terrifying! Now my daughter, who is still at school, has friends who are also still at school that have their P’s so she too is now driven around by friends with fresh new P’s. More Scary! Though I have to admit – the boy drivers scare me much more!
The big clincher comes when they turn 18. That is when they say “I’m 18, I can do what I want”. So the tigress that has fiercely protected her cubs all these years is in a state of quandrum. You want your kids to be happy and to learn independence but you want them safe too! They also need to understand the impact their activities have on you – the worry, the not knowing. There needs to be communication. You have to find a happy medium. It’s not always easy!!
Anyway this cutting of the apron strings is a very tricky thing. Does a mother ever really cut the apron strings? All I know is that for now – keep those scissors away from me and hide the bloody apron and its strings! The strings on my apron might be very long now and becoming threadbare but this tigress is sticking to stretching a bit longer yet!!