This is an open letter to the amazing moms who find themselves in the position of having a kid, or a few kids, up and out of the house and some still left at home, from the perspective of an oldest child married to another oldest child who both have siblings at home.
Firstly, thank you for raising me to be awesome. Yeah, I’m aren’t perfect and I am going to make a lot of stupid bonehead mistakes that I could have prevented by just listening to your advice, but ultimately how you parented me helped me become who I am today. I know you did your best, and that with the oldest kid you’re just going on all theory and guesswork so, two thumbs up for keeping me alive and intact!
Secondly I’m sorry for the things I said and the grey hairs I gave you when I was too busy being a stubborn teenager to listen to you. Enough said?
Thirdly, please let me be independent. I left home because I need to build my own life. I promise to do my best. I want you to be proud of me, but in order to do that first I have to be proud of myself and I can’t have pride if you’re always doing everything for me. Don’t always offer to fix things for me, give me money if I am wanting for stuff, or smother me with your “help” with that I have said I don’t need. I can pay my own bills, make my own phone calls, handle my own college classes and if I can’t then I really need to learn. I want to be independent, and since you raised me to be an adult (not a child forever) please understand that and don’t be offended or hurt when I spread my wings.
Fourthly, please take care of my siblings that live at home before you offer to help me. Do I appreciate your help? Yes! That one time that I called home crying because I burned dinner to a crisp and I didn’t have anything else to eat, I will never forget when you fixed it by having pizza delivered because I was broke enough to eat the extra crispy blackened chicken. That was amazing.
On the other side of the coin, I don’t want to feel bad because you offered me cash “just because” when you grouch at my siblings when they need something. That makes me feel bad, hurts my siblings, and it’s a really quick way to build up some major resentment between us and that just sucks. Remember the talk about independence? I meant that. Put them first, it’s okay if I have to dig through the couch for spare change to pick up a loaf of bread so I can survive the week on PB&Js. It won’t kill me.
Fifth, please understand I can’t always do things with you, and it isn’t fair to guilt trip me about it. I can’t always spend the holidays with you, go on family vacations or come home when you want me to. Sometimes I can, and when I do it’s awesome. But if I can’t, or if I choose to make other plans, please respect my choice. Sometimes we just need to have a little separation in our lives. That doesn’t mean I love you any less or don’t want to spend time with you anymore, it just means that I’m doing what you raised me to do, which is live my own life. I promise I won’t abandon you completely. I love you way too much for that.
On that note, please respect my decisions that I make in general. I have to make my life work, and while I respect your opinion, I am the one who has to deal with the consequences of my actions. If I do make a terrible decision and I really mess it up after you gave me perfectly good advice, you don’t have to bail me out. It’s okay to let me learn some painful lessons sometimes. That would be better than damaging our relationship because of a lack of healthy boundaries. No one wants to battle it out, do we?
Lastly, I love you. You are the reason I am who I am. I appreciate the countless hours of care, worry, affection, stress, cleaning, feeding, driving, hugging, rocking, diaper changing, clothes shopping, nose wiping, teachable moments and countless sacrifices you gave to make me the adult I am.