What is the Best Thing About Seeing Your Adult Children Grow Older?
My daughter turned 50 this week. Yes, 50. How did that happen? I was 50 myself only a few months ago – or so it seems.
Children and Time
When it comes to our children, time seems to work at a different pace. We do what we do, go about our business and, in the background, we vaguely know we are growing older. We tend not to notice – or, in some cases, try our best not to notice – that we are ageing, too.
But how do our children age so fast? It was only a few years ago, surely, when we were chasing them around the park or helping them tiptoe through the minefield of adolescence.
And not that long ago at all that we were watching them seek to find themselves in their 20s and 30s. They tried out jobs, quit, and tried again. Often the same with boyfriends or girlfriends. And that was OK. We worried, of course, but it was what they were supposed to do at that age.
But you suddenly notice they are getting even older. Settling down, setting up house with a partner or even spouse – and gosh, even having kids themselves. I have written a lot about grandmothers, including a book about how it feels to be a grandmother, so I know well about that.
But how in the world did that happen?
Feelings Towards Middle Aged Children
My father used to say that he didn’t mind getting old, but he couldn’t bear having middle aged children. I now know what he meant. In many ways, it is the biggest indicator of your own age. He always said I was 31.
And there is no terminology for it. The word ‘children’ implies people who are young, although your children remain your children whatever age they are. We can talk about our sons and daughters, but there is no ready collective term for these very adult adults.
But once you accept the fact, there is something pleasing about your children getting older. Especially if they have settled into a good life and have a strong sense of themselves.
There is a fair chance that they are not doing what you imagined when you were chasing them around the playground. But is it good for them? Are they happy in themselves?
And they probably didn’t marry exactly the person you imagined all those years ago. But are their marriages (or partnerships) strong? Are they successful as parents? These are the important issues – not the actual age that has suddenly come to your attention.
The Problem Crops Up at All Ages
Perhaps you are a bit younger than me. Your youngest son has just turned 25 or your daughter has turned 40. The numbers are different, but the feelings are the same. You still ask yourself, where has the time gone?
And it continues right on up. I have a friend in her mid-90s whose children are all retired or in the process of retiring. We certainly agreed that was strange. But it will happen more and more as we live longer and longer.
So, enjoy what you have, each and every day. Your children are, indeed, growing older. So are you. So, for that matter, are your grandchildren if you have them.
There are, undoubtedly, bumps along the way. I am told that there is a Chinese proverb to the effect that mothers are as happy as their least happy child. So true.
I hope that means you are happy enough.
Have your children recently hit important milestones, in terms of their age? Does this worry you or is it the source of pleasure? What is the best thing about seeing your children grow older? Please share your thoughts below.