I’m at that point in parenthood that I dreamed about for so many years.
That point where I have time at home alone without being clung to and constantly followed.
Where I can do something in one room without the fear of something going horribly wrong in another one.
I can go grocery shopping alone.
I can sit at the beach and read a book if I want to without being interrupted every 30 seconds.
I’m not constantly worried that one of the kids will fall in the pool and drown.
I don’t have to deal with car seats and seat belts and allow an extra 15 – 45 minutes for getting ready and getting out the door any time we need to leave the house.
I don’t have to think about choking hazards and electrical outlets and baby gates and holding hands in parking lots and making sure the stairs are blocked off at all times.
But now there is new stuff to think about.
Number 3 and 4 are teenagers now.
Number 3 is less than a year and a half from getting his license.
Number 4 is hoping to get into a boarding school that’s five hours away from our house.
Are they ready?
Have I prepared them?
And if I haven’t prepared them, is there enough time left to do that?
Do they realize the power of their words?
Can I trust them on social media?
Sure, I know they aren’t going to choke on a grape or a piece of popcorn now, but do I know for sure they aren’t going to make a choice that eventually leads them to getting completely wasted or OD’ing on drugs and choking on their own vomit?
Nope. I don’t.
I gotta say, in this department I’d take the grape choking hazard over the puke choking possibility any day.
Have I prepared them to handle the responsibilities of Instagram or Snapchat without doing something that will totally fuck up their futures? Do I know they won’t post something stupid that could potentially get them kicked out of school?
I mean, I think I have.
But you never know.
Are they strong enough to resist the temptation of their phones when they eventually get their license? Do they know not to text and drive?
I hope so.
Have I taught them how to express themselves respectfully and communicate effectively?
Are they strong enough to get out of a relationship with an abusive boyfriend or a cheating girlfriend?
Have I established strong and open lines of communication where my kids will come to me should they get themselves in any sort of trouble?
If they are struggling with any type of mental illness, will they let me know? Will I see the signs?
If a bunch of their friends are being assholes to someone, will they stand up and do the right thing?
Are they resilient enough to handle disappointment?
Are they tough enough to handle a break up or major failure without completely imploding?
Will they take responsibility when they fuck up?
Are they equipped to handle all the shit the world is gonna throw at them over the next 5 or 10 or 20 years?
I will never know until all of those situations present themselves.
The teenage years can send you into a worrying tailspin.
But worrying does nothing to prevent any of this stuff.
It doesn’t help our kids, and it doesn’t help us.
The only thing worrying does is prevent me from being present for my kids right now.
And right now will be last year before I know it.
So I’m working on the hardest part of the teenage years.
I don’t want to worry any of these years or months or days away.
But I gotta be honest.
If I could travel back in time, back to those days of having to schedule everything around nap times,
well, I’d do it in a heartbeat.