Monday, February 7, 2011

The Impermanence of Parenting

I’ve been spending more time with Buddhism lately and it is affecting my parenting in a good way. Tall Daughter E will be graduating from high school and turning 18 in about a year in a half. This realization after the holidays started a panic beating in my chest. There is no way she is almost ready to be released out into the world as an adult. No. Way.

I am trying to take a step back and look at the impermanence of this stage of parenting. I do not feel remotely ready to be the parent of an adult; I can’t believe she is actually almost ready to be one. Unfortunately, me feeling ready and it actually occurring are unrelated ideas. No one is going to ask my opinion about the matter; it just is. So instead of railing against in inevitable, I am trying to savor and appreciate the time I have left with Tall E as my little girl. There are only so many more times she is going to hug and kiss me goodnight before she goes to bed. Only so many more times she will grumble as I ask her to help me with dinner. (That reminds me, I need to teach her to cook more different things.) The added side-effect of this is that is makes it easier to deal with raising a teenager. When I know that I don’t have that much longer to spend with her or to try to teach her my values it makes it easier to deal with things that, in the past, would drive me crazy. Why would I spend my remaining time with her being angry about small stuff?

Except when Tall E bickers with her little sister, the rhythm of our relationship has already changed in the last year or so. We relate and talk to each other differently than when she was a child and I can only imagine things will be even more different as she starts to lead her own life. I have been her favorite person for most of her life. She has always been bound to me in a way that I have sometimes found suffocating, but now I can’t imagine not having on a daily basis. It is hard to conceive of her not needing me. I have been raising Tall E almost my entire adult life so it is will real sadness that I view the end of actively parenting her, but that makes living with her all the more precious.


  1. Oh, my. You've just captured what I'm feeling with my eldest (also a tall E who will turn 18 and graduate next school year).

  2. What a crossroads it is - our kids become adults, and we're left marveling at how THEIR childhoods seemed to go by in a flash, while ours (well, mine anyway) dragged on for eons. I finally understand where those "I-can't-wait-to-be-a-grandparent" thoughts come from.

  3. I still miss having Carl in the house with me. And I won't say that having an adult relationship with your child is a replacement for what you lose (because it isn't), but it is fantastic to see them making their own decisions, learning from their mistakes, and still (sometimes) coming to you for advice. Good for you for paying attention now, and cherishing this time. You'll miss every minute, even the painful ones.