I look at my phone several times to make sure I haven’t missed it. The call, the text, the message, or even an email, any form of communication. These days I always seem to feel like I’m waiting to connect with my physically distant, twenty-something children. As they become more independent, talking with me becomes less of a priority. Their need for my immediate input naturally decreases when they leave the nest but I still crave the sound of their voices.
Every day I think, “My phone must be malfunctioning.”
I look at it hourly, sometimes several times an hour. When it does ring and shows it is one of my adults, I pause and collect myself so I don’t overwhelm them. Sometimes they call to chat and tell me about their week, their job, or the friends they are making.
Other times they want to share their heart with me. Every time they voice their heart, I struggle to see them as adults. Even now I must practice repeating, “They are adults.” It is a hard, yet crucial statement to learn, let alone live out.
As a parent, letting go is a very unique heartbreak. We are proud, excited, scared, and sad all at the same time. They are still our babies whose broken hearts, failures, and hardships shatter us. We do not want them to grow up, yet as parents, our job is to help them grow up to be strong, brave, and independent. We encourage them to grow their wings, learn to fly, and find their own way in this world. Even when that way takes them far from our homes.
Bobbing to the surface of my mind, I remember my strategies for handling the emotional angst of PCS moves when they were teens. The principles behind these strategies are still strong, but they need a little tweaking to help me reach my adult kids.
1: React in love but don’t overreact, even when they do. Count to ten or 100 as needed to calm your own emotions. Especially when you can’t see them and they can’t see you.
2: Remain approachable. Keep your door open even when they slam theirs closed. Keep your heart open and loving no matter the separation, time zones, or distance.
3: Resist the urge to hold them. Let them initiate the interactions. Jumping on the first flight to where they live won’t help most times; listening is the key.
4: Reflect on your feelings, don’t force yourself to be happy. Don’t expect them to be happy even when you know everything will work out just fine.
It seems no matter the age or stages our children are in, we find ourselves waiting on them. It reminds me of when I waited for their arrival into the world. Then, when they were teens, I learned to wait for them to initiate communication. When the world hurts them, I pray they remember I am here to listen and love them. My love for my twenty-somethings only grows stronger the older they get and the farther away they may live.
Here I sit and silently wait once again for their call. How do you stay connected to your adult children?