by Judith Robinson
Before you read Judith's insightful and entertaining blog I want to thank her for contributing such classy writing! She's a SHE (Sidetracked Home executive) complete with a brilliant mind and humility that doesn't always go with one so talented. Just a note: the photo is not of Judith's 40-year-old, (she has three daughters) but of my son Michael at his 40th birthday party. Yeah, I made the hat complete with 40, one-dollar bills (you can see how thrilled he is with his gift). Michael turned 50 this February and like Judith, I've needed parenting books for all my adult children as they continue to grow and change. When were we told that once we're moms we're always moms?
What to Expect When Your Child Turns Forty
by Judith Robinson
That’s the book I’d like to see!
There’s no shortage of parenting advice for that prenatal crowd. Bookstore shelves are packed with parenting advisers of every ilk. Don’t want to let the baby cry 'till she gives up? Keep looking. Next shelf down it’s nature’s way all the way: family bed, wearable cradles. He’ll never cry. From Dr. Sears to Dr. Roebuck they’ve got all the answers, and they are as different as pink is from blue.
Toddlers? Who doesn’t have a word or two in print about those cutie pies who will turn on you faster than a woman in the menopause?
The list thins a bit during that stage from six to eleven, then picks up significantly once those hormones kick in. It seems there are fewer titles than ever for parenting adolescents. Plugging them in must have cured it.
Co-parenting. Now that’s a huge topic of interest, often recommend by divorce lawyers along with the first consultation. Seems that a little more co-parenting in those first thirty-six months might have headed off a few of those issues.
No way around it, parenting is hard. And it doesn't end, even when their grandson has commandeered the family minivan. Granted, the physical care of a mid-lifer dwindles significantly, but there is that dreadful damned-if-you-do/damned-if-you-don’t conundrum. Recall for a moment, your spinning thoughts, as you helped your limping outfielder off the diamond you knew – there was nowhere for you to land on this one. Straight to the ER for an X-ray and you were ‘over-protective.’ But, telling her to “shake it off” likely guaranteed a re-break of the tibia in a month. "Could have set it properly then," the orthopedic surgeon growls.
Please, won’t somebody write a book?
I was fairly well prepared for everything from cradle cap to wisdom teeth. Knew my job description for everything from breastfeeding to dressing the bride. But it’s this middle age thing that has me stumped.
As with many families today, we’ve lived distant from our three daughters most of their young adult lives. With the gentlest blessing we could summon, we’d rent the largest U-Haul available, and truck it full of our stuff to get them started. Without a doubt, they'd hoped for new stuff. So had I.
Between Southwest Airlines and unlimited cellular service we were as connected as any of us needed, or cared to be. Five p.m. culinary emergencies were my specialty. “Mom, all I have is an onion, dry pasta, two cans of cream-of-something, and a half pound of frozen ground beef?” (I had them fed by six.*)
One-by-one the Grand’s stair-stepped in. This job I was ready for: rock the baby, tend the mom, feed the dad. After much oohing, aahing, rocking and crooning, I’d fly, fly away before I’d made anyone too angry. (Oh, well there was that one time – but she thought she knew everything.)
As it turned out, she did – until that eleven p.m. wake-up call. “What are we supposed to do about the family of opossums living behind the dryer in the garage?” Her faith in my competence with urban wildlife is mystifying. I’d not had a clue about calming a colicky baby.
They’re wonderful parents: mature and better prepared than we’d ever been. But this decade between forty and fifty is perplexing. Something like the terrible twos, but more like another adolescence. Wedding linens fray, right along with the vows. Her BFF from high school needs a biopsy. The boss taps him as a mentor for the new golden boy Their own empty nest lies in sight.
We parents need that child development book asap! (Child? Until the English language comes up with something else, it's the only word we've got for them.) How do we parent these midlife offspring? We love them, but we wonder: Too much, too little? Too late, too soon? A pat on the back? A hug? Some advice? Suggestions? Or money?
Philip, my husband and father of our three, sees it like this: we stay far enough behind so they don’t hear our footsteps, but close enough to catch them before they fall. It’s a method that's worked fairly well. But, clear as glass, I see that the day presses upon us. Too soon, we’ll pivot. It will be those middle aged children tip-toeing behind us, ready to do the catching.
I pray God gives us all grace as we make the turn.
*Sidetracked Sisters Catch Up on the Kitchen
©2016 Judith Robinson, all rights reserved
Thank you Judith. Since I've got ten years on you, the best advice I can give as we all move toward that turn, is to have our lives in order. None of us wants to leave our children with homes filled with clutter and chaos. In The JOY of Being Disorganized, I wrote a whole chapter on decluttering your home and I'd like to give it to you. Just click on the book for the free chapter entitled, There Arose Such a Clutter.