422. Seeing Our Children Grow

You’d think after all the effort we’d put into helping our children grow, and after all the work we’d seen them put into that upward struggle,
that we’d be thoroughly happy when they’d finally made it through all that. We ought to be sitting back proudly and rejoicing in having done good work. And there can indeed be a lot of that sitting back and rejoicing.
There’s also a feeling of relief; some of what we and they had to do was difficult when we were younger, and would be much more difficult now. I speak from my own point of view as a fairly recently disabled person, but I think I also speak for many other members of my generation, many of whom are relatively able-bodied. Most of us would not quite say we’re glad to have it all “over with,” but we’re enjoying our new freedom in a way that’s reminiscent of the enjoyment we got out of moving away from our parents; we’re free again to concentrate more on our own priorities. We don’t have to think about babysitters.
But there’s also sadness, and when I first started adjusting to having my children grow up, there was anger. I’ll tell you about the anger first; you’re probably already somewhat familiar with the sadness. As I began to realize that my children were turning into adults, there were times when I was angry with them. It was an anger I didn’t understand. It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with the adults they were turning into, although some of my baffled utterances may have made it seem as if I disapproved of them.
I grew to realize, after much struggling with that anger, that I had been angry with them for destroying the wonderful children I’d loved through those years. They had destroyed the children by growing up. The little children who used to call me “Daddy” were now grown women. They still called me “Daddy,” but where were those children? Hidden somewhere inside these women who called me “Daddy?” I didn’t like that. Ally-ally-in-free!
As soon as I realized what was going on, my anger started subsiding, gradually giving way to occasional sadness. My daughters were not going to come to me crying when they fell down; they knew where the band-aids were. If I played my cards right, maybe they’d still come to me in times of trouble. Maybe they’d even manufacture some problems, just to indulge me. But they wouldn’t need me the way they used to need me.
If you have children who haven’t already grown up, they’re probably going to. Maybe – probably – there are times when you wish they would hurry up and do it. And there are plenty of times I’m glad my daughters have done it. But I hope you’re ready for the sadness, and maybe even the anger.

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