It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. It was a time when I wanted to throw my hands up and declare that I couldn’t do it any longer, it was a time when I feared that it would all come to an end too quickly.
The place may not be England or France and the time may not be 1775 but it still remains an age of competing and contradictory attitudes. It is the age of parenting teenagers. When I first read Tale of Two Cities I was but a teen myself. It is funny how those words have stuck with me for thirty years and how they came back to me in a new light as I attempt to survive my children’s teen years.
Watching your child transform from a boy to a man, from a girl to a woman, is both the best and worst time of your life. The pride you feel in their accomplishments is overwhelming but the mistakes they make can have unbelievable consequences. I remember the first steps my children took, that excited nervousness as they put one foot in front of the other, toddling from side to side, quickly regaining their center and finally falling onto their well padded bottom. I stood with my hands reaching out for them with their little hand reaching back for me. I was there ready to catch them if they should fall, protect them from injury. Flash forward and I am watching them drive out of the driveway for the first time. I stand at the door with my hand raised above my head waving good-bye, they are not looking to me at all but only seeing the road ahead of them. They are on their own, I am not there to protect them any longer and if they should fall I know the consequences are much greater. It is their right of passage, their key to freedom, their road to become their own person.
My job description for the last eighteen years has been to prepare my children for independence. Allow my children to develop their personality, build their self-esteem, nurture their dreams and make them believe they can do anything they set their mind to. I have done my job well. My children are well-adjusted, independent thinkers, that want to spread their wings and fly from the nest we have shared. My first child has left the nest, he is thriving at college and I can see his siblings watching him and counting the days until they can follow in his footsteps. They all have big dreams of what they want to do, a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer.
So I hold my breath and continue along the path of the best of times, the worst of times, the age of great wisdom and the age of foolishness. I will cheer them as they succeed, I will pick them up when they fall. I will allow them to make their own mistakes, and will attempt to steer them clear of foolish mistakes. I will hold them tight in my heart but will let go of control. I will allow them develop their own life separate from mine. I am the mother of three teenagers.