Dear Parent of a Gay ChildShari Bender
|#1 — Respond to texts from mom almost as quickly as texts from girlfriends, friends, people you barely know, spammers|
|Don't expect sons to respond to texts from me as quickly as texts from girlfriends, friends, people they barely know, spammers (okay, maybe spammers)|
|#2 — Answer WhatsApp family chats so everybody knows you're out there (even though every family has a laggard who doesn’t pull their weight in the family chat)|
|Understand they won't always join in family chats; realize they are reading the texts, even if they don’t have their own thoughts to add or are just too lazy to write|
|#3 — Become engaged to your significant other and think about producing children (this is aimed at my oldest son)|
|Get a new puppy in lieu of waiting for grandchildren|
|#4 — Add more details to communications|
|Use imagination to fill in missing details (apply MadLibs approach for extra fun)|
|#5 — Stay off cell phone when together with family|
|Stay off cell phone when together with family|
|#6 — Stop complaining you weren’t the favorite child and about the times you were yelled at or “treated unfairly”|
|Ignore all parenting complaints — sing a pleasant little tune in head when they start grousing and remember what a great job I did, despite a few mistakes|
You probably have a few family resolutions of your own you may want to add to the list.
And since I’m doing the resolution thing, I’m adding another important one just for myself. Here’s why…
I was at the supermarket a few days ago and, as I was putting the grocery bags in my trunk, I noticed a really cute baby in a stroller next to my car. As his mother lifted him out and into his car seat, I told her how adorable her son was and mused that I missed having babies because mine are all grown. (I’m at that point where I have baby lust — refer back to family resolution number 3.) She mentioned that she also had a three-year-old daughter and commented that she wished hers were “all grown.” (She’s at the point where she has alone-time lust.)
I remember that feeling as if it were yesterday.
And then I realized I've lived much of my life crossing things off a list, waiting for the next phase to happen. When my boys were infants, I wanted them to sleep through the night. Later I couldn’t wait for them to start nursery school so I could have a few hours to myself. Then I was ready for them to go to “real” school.
I waited for the day when they were old enough to stay alone so I could run out for coffee or an errand. And the day I didn’t need to hire a babysitter so that my husband and I could go on a date. As my boys got older there were more things I eagerly anticipated. I couldn’t wait for my boys to drive so that I could be less of a chauffeur. And on and on, always looking ahead to the next stage, as if I would be happier there.
What I didn’t understand at the time was that each phase was equal parts difficult and wonderful. Each had something to love as well as something I didn’t enjoy so much. The next phase wasn't really better than the last — just different.
Having an infant is a chance to be someone’s whole world and be able to meet their every need. Sleep deprived yes, but to hear those baby giggles and lock eyes with them as you feed them is extraordinary.
High school brought more independence but also more worries. New driver, the emotional turbulence of the teen years, grades that counted for college, ACT and SAT scores, etc.
And college: "Are they going to classes? Have they made friends? Are they happy? Why haven’t I heard from them? I really miss them..."
So now, as I turn the corner on a new year, I don’t resolve to lose weight or work out more (not that doing those things would be a bad idea). Instead I resolve to enjoy the moment rather than see the completion of things as merely another opportunity to cross milestones off a self-imposed list. I will leave the lists for the grocery store and not my life.
Wishing you a happy and healthy 2019. May all your hopes, dreams and resolutions come true in the coming year!