BY: JANA GREENE
One of my friends recently said something offhandedly that punched me right in the gut.
“I’m only as happy as my least happy child,” she waxed. Never before has anyone said something more relatable to me.
We live in strange times. Times that can either amp our codependency behaviors, or challenge us to fortify them.
Nobody tells you this, but lean in real close… the age of eighteen is not the “magic” age when your kids get their shit together. I don’t know who the hell came up with that number, but its arbitrary as all get-out. We are here for our kids no matter what their ages.
Children boomerang back. Mine is 28. Two out of three of our adult kids have had to move back home for a spell.
I’m very glad they have somewhere to bounce back to. I did not have a safe place to boomerang home as an adult. Nobody took care of me. I want better for my kids than I had, but I also want them to be fully independent.
Life is messy, ya’ll.
In preparing a room for her, I am also preparing my heart. Because the child who is moving back temporarily can push my buttons.. In all fairness, we both probably push one another’s buttons.
She is scrappy and feisty and “extra,”and I am scrappy and feisty and “extra”. And I don’t know how to “mom” grown children under my roof. I hate conflict, and the more adults you add to your home, the higher the conflict quotient.
Here are some ways in which I will protect my boundaries and actually enjoy the experience of having a grown child back at home:
I will not run interference between other family members.
This is HUGE for me. Keeping the entirety of peace in the house – even in a relatively peaceful family dynamic – is not my job. I will do my part, but I will not clean up after others, literally or figuratively. I hope my husband and daughter get along (as they mostly do), but I will not take ownership of their relationship.
I will set realistic expectations of myself, and of her.
As a disabled person, I sometimes need help. A lot of help. It is okay to ask for it and expect it. (Hear that, self? It is OKAY TO ASK FOR IT AND EXPECT IT.)
I will show grace and respect (and expect respect.)
It’s not the same world it was when most of us were in our 20’s. It’s much more expensive to live on one’s own. As she comes in for a landing, I will remember it’s not her destination flight that brought her home; just circumstances that will improve and allow her to spread her wings. I will try my best to be graceful and patient, while knowing this is temporary.
I will operate from a place of healthy boundaries. I’ve become accustomed to having my own space. And accustomed to meditating and self-care. These things did not come easy, and they did not come until my children flew the nest. I am protective of them.
I can be happy, even if nobody in my house is happy. I tend to calibrate my mood to whomever is feeling any type of way. This includes my husband.
I will not try to “fix”. I am present and available, but must remember it isn’t my job to “fix” anyone. Furthermore, it is an impossibility.
I will keep the faith. I will lean into God and have faith that whatever comes my way, He is only ever good. And I will have faith in my daughter, as I always have. We will get through the bumps in life as a family.
I will find the joy in this – and every – experience.
My daughter and I are exceedingly close. My daughters and I have been through a LOT together. We have legions of inside jokes, the same absurd and silly sense of humor. We talk about deep subjects, even when we don’t agree. We will make memories during this time that wouldn’t be made any other way. I will enjoy the ride!
I don’t know if these points will help you through a trying, temporary time, but writing them out is already helping me. My therapist has been helping me overcome co-dependency issues, and what better time to hone those skills?
I fell like this is not the only area of life I can avoid the potholes of co-dependency. Life is chock full of opportunities to stretch and grow.
I don’t know what age people actually get their shit together is, because I don’t have mine together yet!
And I pray God blesses you and gives you permission to not save the entire world. Because it isn’t yours to save. Life is hard and relationships are hard, and co-dependent behaviors whisper that they will help you get through it, but in reality only make it more difficult.
We are worth the effort of setting healthy boundaries and caring about ourselves and our peace as much as we care for others. I won’t forget that if you don’t!
God bless us, every one.