Mom, You’re FIRED!

youre fired
Okay. So I’m being a bit dramatic here, but I had plans for my oldest (Trinity) that did not include her moving out once she turned 18.

See, I was going to be the kind of Mom who not only my daughter wanted to be around, but all her friends wanted to be around too. I was going to coax her through the first few years of adulthood, I was going to be her understanding shoulder to cry on, her best friend, her encourager, her solid rock to bounce ideas off of.

So now I get to do all that, but from a little bit of a distance, about 20 miles to be exact (which is nothing out here in the Texas Hill Country).

As much as I hate to admit to anything about me as being normal, what I’ve experienced this week reminded me of the Kubler-Ross model of the five stages of grief I vaguely remember: (Now that I see it in black and white, it fits me to a T. I HATE that!)

1.  Denial and Isolation – This was where I decided, “She’s just doing this to see how we’ll react, she’s not really serious.”  That was followed by a longing to go lock myself in my room and just have everybody leave me alone.  I fought that with all my might because

  1. I didn’t want my daughter’s memories of her last days home to be of an absent mother; and,
  2. The lock on my door doesn’t work anyway.  They’d find me, they always find me.

2.  Anger – I won’t even go into details here, but let’s just say I was not very happy with anybody and everybody associated with Trinity’s move, including Trinity.

3.  Bargaining – This was where we started changing the rules in her favor. The rules needed to be changed, but I realized that changing the rules wasn’t going to really change the situation.

4.  Depression – That’s where I sat for a couple days, feeling like I’d been fired from my dream job.  (Having Trinity was the best thing that EVER happened to me up to the time that status was rivaled by getting married and having more babies.  Now it’s a tie.)  Rejection?  Yes.  Then I remembered this really isn’t about me, is it?  And Trinity assured me with her comments, No, it’s not.

5.  Acceptance – This is the good part.  See, my daughter, Trinity, is amazing.  She has been such a blessing – as a friend, a co-worker (for a long time she did all the dishes AND all the laundry), a daughter, a confidant, the voice of reason at times, my Scrabble partner tutor, a companion for my other children, I could go on and on.  She has earned the respect of just about everyone she has come into contact with.  She’s a joy to be around, and I am so very, very proud of her.  I know that she will handle this experience, as she has handled all the other experiences in her life, with grace and discernment.

And it has finally hit me that it’s not necessarily a bad thing when an 18-year-old adult decides they want to actually act like an adult rather than just have all of the privileges and none of the responsibilities.  I mean, don’t we want that eventually for each of our children?  Not to say we wouldn’t have loved it if Trinity would have let us carry the load just a little longer, but there’s a lot of good in all this too. Although it felt at first like she was dropping out, in reality she is graduating.

So here’s my question for you:

What did your parents do (or not do) when you left home to encourage, support and foster an ongoing relationship with you?

AND/OR

What have you done for your adult children when they left home to encourage, support and foster and ongoing relationship with them?

Disclaimer:  And, yes, I did ask my adult daughter for her permission to post this!

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16 thoughts on “Mom, You’re FIRED!”

  1. I was 19 when I decided to leave home. Home was not a healthy environment. My mom let me know that my leaving was a one-way door. I already had a full-time job. I took a chance on the girls I shared an apartment with. I didn’t really know them at all. Lucky me, it turned out well. We enjoyed living together and shared the household chores. I cooked, they washed up after meals, we all cleaned on Saturday. It was a great education for me. I gained confidence in myself (yes, made some bad choices too), learned I could get along with others well and help create a comfortable environment free of the tension of battling parents.

    My daughters had difficult times to deal with. Home was not a healthy environment (same song, second verse. #1 was told to leave when her behavior and habits became intolerable for me. We kept in touch. I’d like to think she knew I loved her through her ups and downs (I think she did). I tried to be encouraging, but my fear for her was sometimes overwhelming.

    Then one day a voice spoke to me: Let go of her. She’s mine. I claim her.

    Daughter 2’s departure broke my heart, but she had made up her mind. She had her ups and downs too when she left, and my fears for her grew and overwhelmed me again. But this time I didn’t need to hear the Voice. I already knew the drill. I hope she knew she was loved through her trials.

    I wish I had been a different kind of mother, one who was more understanding and able to communicate my love and concern in ways that invited closeness. I really missed the mark there.

    Both my daughters found their way. I hope they have made peace with their pasts. They’ve built lives on a foundation of faith and are now raising their own children the way that seems right to them. I’m sure they have moments of doubt and panic.

    Now it’s their turn to grapple with children straining at the bit. Raising children has got to be the hardest job in the world. Nature makes sure we do her work. Babies are so appealing. When they grow into young adults, their ways aren’t necessarily ours.

    Yes, you’re fired, but that should be your goal. You want your children to be independent, to take what you’ve given them and make their own lives. You and Trinity will always have a strong bond. As long as she knows you’re there for her, she has a touchstone of love and support. She will experience love and loss, success and failure…all so necessary in the task of becoming an adult…and she knows the door swings both ways.

    Bless you all. Ma.

    1. One of my favorite parenting gurus says parents should always keep in mind they are trying to work themselves out of a job. Whaaaaa. But I liked that job SOOOOO much! And just for the record, Trinity was an appealing baby, toddler, student, pre-teen, teenager and now adult. She has been such a joy! But you know that, don’t you?

      Love ya,
      Alyson

  2. I moved out when I turned 16. I was emancipated (for financial reasons concerning college grants since I graduated high school early) and had already graduated. She didn’t like it, gave me a ton of grief, but supported me like crazy in the sense I would show up and she would feed me, send food home with me, and do my laundry. She always told me that no matter what I could move home if things ever got to be too much (work and school at my age). I did have to move home and she was awesome about it and helped me happily move back in. 🙂 I loved her for allowing me to stretch my wings of independence but being there to catch me when I fell, too.

    Though it didn’t go without an, “I told you so..” 😉

    1. Thanks, Amber. Such a hard balance to maintain – letting her stretch her wings and still be supportive and encouraging and fully present even when we worry. Sounds like you had a pretty awesome mom.

      Blessings,
      Alyson

      1. I don’t think you ever quite appreciate your mom until you have kids of your own but yes, she did her best. She overcame a lot and devoted her life to raising me and was always, always, always there to catch me when I fell.

        I used to fight with her constantly and tell her she just “didn’t understand me at all”. I regret that so much now. But the truth is…I grew up to be JUST like her. As a parent I can see all of her decisions and choices with such crystal clarity now. She was a good woman and made mistakes but there was one thing I always knew at that time (though I didn’t appreciate it the way I should).

        She would always be there for me when I called. Without fail.

        And in the end, that’s all you can do when your children reach adulthood. Hope that you gave them all the necessary tools and wait for the phone to ring. Always be there when it does. Because one thing that DOESN’T change for a young woman is that, when anything happens -good or bad- in her life, she is going to want her “Mommy”. 🙂

  3. What a beautiful letter you’ve written to Trinity, Alyson. I hope she prints it and keeps it for future reference. This is one of the best starts to an ongoing relationship – putting in writing what you sometimes cannot verbalize.

    When I moved out to attend a university 2.5 hours away, my mom kept in touch by calling me every week, even when I didn’t return the calls (now, it’s the other way around). She would leave long voice mail messages to tell me she loved me and wanted me to call back soon. If she didn’t hear from me within an appropriate time frame, a second voice mail message (this was before text messages) would demand I call her back to ensure I was alive. Oh, and she would occasionally send me a care package. I intentionally didn’t ask much of them while I was away, because I knew they had their own burdens raising my two little brothers now. So, when I did ask them for something or to come to something, they took it seriously and did all they could to make it happen.

    Whenever I would return home, Mom always said how glad she was to see me, even though we both know at least one argument was inevitable. A special meal had been prepared for my homecoming, and my favorite drinks and eats were stocked. I was always offered gas money, asked if I had enough food.

    The above are all really tangible things, but I think you hit on something, Alyson, when you said Trinity had become somewhat of a friend to you. I think my mom and I have also developed more than a mother-daughter relationship. Because she has opened up more to me, I have reciprocated. It’s been neat to find out some of the things about my mom I never knew before!

    Thank you for the inspiration to write this, Alyson. I think I’m going to call my mom 🙂

    1. Yay!! Call Mom. I’ll have to get Trin’s address. I wonder if I can send her care packages even if I still get to see her once or twice a week. 🙂 Your mom has been such a good example in everything. I admire her so much! And thanks for the reminder. In this age of texting, I should be able to make sure Trin is alive day or night.

      Big hug!
      Alyson

  4. If you hold on too tight, all you end up doing is choking them and building resentment that can take years to resolve. My father didn’t speak to me for almost a year(not that that was a bad thing), when I moved out. Decades later, we are still on egg shells.

    It’s been 3 years since my son moved out. It took a long time for both of us to get to a place where I wasn’t the enemy and he wasn’t the devil incarnate! But, we did. And I think the separation help speed up the process.

    You work your fanny off protecting, loving, caring, worrying, greying, wrinkling. But, what you are really working towards is letting them go.
    Parenthood really sux sometimes.

    1. My daughter and I are both amazed that she has been able to leave and Mom and Dad are still talking to each other and her! She keeps saying this is the way she wanted to do it, and this is the way I wanted to do it too, I just didn’t want to do it so soon! If she would have stayed, she knows it would have choked her, and I know it too. Tonight is her first night gone. I had to go out into Austin and coming home was just down the street from where she lives now – wanted to drive by and make sure she made it home, but I didn’t. I keep wondering, if something happens to her, how long is it going to be before I know? Scary thoughts. I’m back to the depression part of all this, but I did do a couple positive things. One, I made sure it was okay with her dad and told her I’m going to take her shopping for some fun stuff for her new place, and I told her now that I’ve thought about it, she can bring her laundry to the house (I’ll get to see her more); she just has to wash it herself. One daughter turns 8 tomorrow, and all I can think is how many more times am I going to have to say good-bye? I would rather change diapers for the rest of my life than keep letting these precious ones go, but apparently that’s not in the plan. Hey, at least with Noah I get to keep one! (And, actually, I do agree, much better to let them go than to have to kick them out at age 30.)

      Blessings,
      Alyson

  5. When I first left home, my relationship with my mom was very shaky. Today we get along great. Honestly the phone (or skype in my case) is a God sent in our relationship. Mom’s are special. I can talk to her without having my problems solved like my dad.

    1. Yeah, I’m going to have to work on not trying to solve problems for the people I love. It’s hard to know sometimes where to draw the line. You’re right, Mom’s are special!

      Blessings,
      Alyson

      1. Well sometimes problems need to be solved. Sometimes else…..Right, always remember that one. No mother is perfect (such is life in a fallen world), and I’m glad I have a mom, disagreements and all!!!!!!

  6. I moved out when I was eighteen and my mother decided to write about it on her blog. Well, when I was at home, I thought Mom’s blog was silly, but when I moved out I decided to become a follower.

    Love you.

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