My Last Teen Turned 20! No More Teenagers in the House

OK, so my youngest child, the fourth and final Field, a wonderful young man, turned 20 recently.

I have no more teenagers in the house!

The terrific twos flew by. The teen years were a whirlwind! My four kids grew and changed so much and were involved in so many different things and pursuits that the years were chaotic and, mostly, fun.

Ours has always been an open and welcoming house. Neighborhood kids and school friends were always welcomed, any time of the day or night. We've invested in pizza and pop by the truckloads to make young people feel comfortable and safe.

I've had the privilege to hear other's family stories and struggles. And we've had our own share of struggles, as you know.

But things are different now. And different can be very, very good.

Maybe I'm just worn out!  But this parenting business is emotionally exhausting. Each child gives you an opportunity to experience their triumphs and their dive bombs. It's always interesting.

When my first child left home, I did not take it well. To be fair, she did not leave well. It was not a move of strength and independence.

I used to go in her room and cry. I would smell her perfume and hair product smells and weep. Looking at her posters and her remaining possessions made me sad sad sad.

But I lived through it and moved on. Instead of being a sad time, now the moving on is an exciting time!

Yes, I do look back with both fondness and sadness on the years. They were both wonderful and terrifying.

I got to be a mother - a role I wasn't sure I would ever have, due to infertility and the pull of a career.

I got to be the teacher, the nourisher, the comforter, the counselor and guide. I got to do the fun field trips together and the goofy activities and projects. It was a privilege to me.

I also got to go through the hard times of problems and questioning.

You see, if you get to do the fun and rewarding stuff, you also get to walk through the hard times.

Because those hard times are the ones that grow and mature YOU. The experiences bring you into your own as a mature adult and can make you stronger, more empathetic, more fully human.

And here's the cool part. You planted, watered and weeded. Now you get to take on a new role. A watcher. When invited, you get some peripheral participation.

And then there's the freedom - the sweet freedom.

Because now your life is your own!

You aren't bound by Girl Scout meetings or swim meets or parent conferences. For homeschooling mamas, no more lesson planning!

The freedom is sweet and satisfying.

Just you wait!

You get to watch them stride and stumble. If you're lucky, you get to be a trusted listener and advisor.

You get to take a peek into a separate life that is both achingly familiar and foreign.

And so to my four adult children I want to say, Thank you for the privilege of raising you. I got to have the adventure of a lifetime. Now I get to watch your adventure, while pursuing my new adventures.

I think the best years are yet ahead for all of us!

And if you ever miss your old Mom, it's a title I'll never outgrow. Might be harder to find me these days as I chase new adventures, but I'm always here for you.

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Because mothering is wonderful ... except when it's not.