Welcome, Mamma Crew, to another chaotic, exciting, but always beautiful day of an older mom like you!
So, today, Muffin is joining us again because, yes, she has a little bit of anxiety. Her mommy, Emmi, is not home today, so she needs meemaw to give her some love. Otherwise, she barks and barks. It drives everybody crazy. So, today’s topic, does adulting ever get any easier? My daughter wanted to know. And the answer is, “No.”
Emmi wanted me to say that you’re free to do whatever it is that you want to do when you become an adult. But the reality is, I had to tell her that with more freedom comes more responsibility. Because we have to be responsible for our own choices, our own lives, take care of ourselves, and eventually take care of those we choose to have in our lives. So, with more freedom comes more responsibility.
Emmi then asked, “Well. At least I won’t have anyone to tell me what to do anymore.”
Wrong again! Because let’s face it, your college professors are going to tell you what to do and how to do it. And if you have four college professors, they’re going to have four different opinions. Your boss is always going to be telling you what to do. And depending on your chosen profession, it will also determine how you will behave in your private life. Certain behaviors are simply not tolerated in some professions.
I gave her the example of jobs in education. Teachers have a very challenging situation because there are many morality clauses in their contracts. And how do you define morality? Morality is different based on your culture, based on your religion, and possibly based on your age. So, the responsibility is a broad word with severe consequences if you violate the school district’s sense of morality. So, NO—even though as children we have this illusion that one day someone will not be telling us what to do or how to do it—that never actually happens.
Now that doesn’t mean that we don’t have freedom. And for that matter, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have freedom as children. We have the freedom to decide how to react to any situation, and we also have the freedom to make choices.
If you don’t want that morality clause in your contract, don’t work for an employer that puts a morality clause in the contract. If you’re going to live a particular lifestyle, you should work for an employer that will be comfortable accepting your lifestyle or political perspective. Because my goodness, politics has become such a hot potato nowadays. The days when we used to respect each other’s differences seem to be a thing of the past. If you don’t believe what someone else believes, you’re in the wrong. Of course, the problem is that we have different people in our lives, and everybody has their own set of beliefs. So, it’s all about choices.
One of the things that my daughter said to me recently was, “I didn’t know that would be the consequence.”
She had to wear a nightguard to adjust the growth of her jaw. And despite being told every single night to put it on as soon as her father and I walked out of the room, she would take it off. Possible consequences would be removing two of her teeth or jaw surgery in her late teens.
Did we repeat this every night? No. I have to be honest with you. We didn’t repeat it every night. And sometimes, when we repeated it, she would become extremely upset.
“Why do you have to remind me of that awful consequence? What kind of a parent are you to torture me like this? Don’t you know you’re giving me nightmares?”
Well, we’re the kind of parents that were hoping to have her avoid those consequences.
Then came the day when we went to the orthodontist, and the orthodontist said, “The night guard, it’s not going to make any difference. She’s outgrown that phase. All of her adult teeth have come in, and now we’re looking at removing two of her teeth or having jaw surgery.”
And my daughter freaked out because now it was time to pay the piper, to deal with the consequences of her choice, and it was her choice. It was not my choice as a mom. It was not my husband’s choice as a dad. We tried her to get to wear this night guard, and she wouldn’t do it. So, here we are; she has to have these two teeth removed.
We go through the process of finding the oral surgeon and having the initial consultation. And my daughter seems prepared. Or at least, we think that she’s prepared because what I say to her is, “Don’t worry about it. I’m going to be there to hold your hand, and everything’s going to be alright.”
Now, here comes the day of the surgery. The oral surgeon does not allow me to go back with her. He won’t even allow me to go back with her so that he could put in the IV so that she can get the twilight drug for the removal of her teeth. Talk about an unforeseen consequence!
Now, my daughter can be pretty independent, pretty strong, but when she first found out that this would happen, she looked like my two-year-old. She was completely freaked out, completely freaked out. And to be honest with you, I was completely freaked out right along with her because that was something I was not expecting.
Now, it took her about five minutes to pull herself together. She was able to walk to the back, where the surgery was performed. And she was really good about it. There was not a problem. She didn’t argue with the doctor. She didn’t argue with the nurses. She didn’t cry. She didn’t scream—nothing like that. She knew that she had to go through the process and understood it was a consequence of her action, but it was a consequence that she did not like. And frankly, neither did I. I was right along there with her. And that’s one of the things that I said to her is, “Right now, when you make a bad decision or a poor decision. You’re not the only one that has to suffer through the consequences. I have to suffer right along with you.”
Now, to some degree, that’s never going to change because I’m her mom, and I love her. But the reality is that when she’s an adult living her own life, I’m not going to get to see many choices that she makes or have to face a lot of consequences of those choices with her. But I do right now, and boy, let me tell you, it hurts. It hurts.
So, my daughter asked, “What exactly does it mean to be an adult?”
Well, I think the first real sign of adulthood is understanding that with more freedom comes more responsibility. Nothing in life is free, and that includes freedom. We might have the ability to make more choices. We might have the ability to choose different paths in our lives, but the reality is all of those paths lead to responsibility. Even if we choose not to be responsible for others, we’re still responsible for ourselves.
In our household, you have two choices when you turn eighteen: you’re going to college, or you’re on your own, working. You don’t get to stay home. Sorry, we’re not interested in making that kind of dependency. That doesn’t mean that we won’t help you out, but you need to have a job, and you need to be able to support yourself. And if you’re choosing not to go to college, you better find a way to be truly financially independent. Those are the two choices, no other choices. And it’s a choice out of love. I want my children to be independent, self-sufficient and have control over their lives. I don’t want them to be dependent on others. Myself included!
Number two, you have to understand that there’s no way for you to know all of the potential consequences of your actions or decisions. Here’s one I made: I have been dealing with terrible cramping and pain since the age of twelve. I got my period at eleven, and for one year, everything was okay, but then after that, it was absolute hell on earth. I was completely incapacitated for three to four days out of the month, which continued for a very long time. It got better; then it got a lot worse. And eventually, I was diagnosed with stage four of endometriosis.
So, what was my decision with those unforeseen consequences? When a gynecologist suggested that I get on birth control, I decided against it. This was the age of AIDS, and wearing condoms, seemed to be the best way to be safe. And did I really want these hormones in my body? The choice I made was no. It was a very uninformed choice, but I made it nevertheless. Had I been on birth control, my endometriosis might not have gone bad as it did.
Later on, a different gynecologist, by then I must have been in my early thirties, suggested that I have laparoscopic to clean out the endometriosis and see how bad it actually was. I asked her, “Do I need to have surgery?”
“No, you don’t.”
“Well, if I don’t need it, what are the consequences?”
“Well, you continue to have heavy periods, and the cramps would be back.”
Okay. I have been dealing with that all of my life. It didn’t seem like a big deal. I decide not to have surgery which led me to have a partial bowel resection just a couple of years later. So, we don’t always understand the consequences of our decisions or actions, and we need to be very aware of that. We don’t have complete control over the situation. Sometimes we don’t even have control over our own bodies. So, we need to exercise control over our choices.
Number three, we have to be willing to make mistakes. We cannot try to avoid pain, disappointment, or failure in our lives. Because guess what? We learn from all of those things. We learn, and by learning, we become better people, and by learning, we get closer to being the best version of ourselves that we can be.
So, one of my kids was “dating.” What does dating in this pandemic age mean? Talking online and sending each other gifts, I suppose that’s normal nowadays. So, after a while, they break up, and my daughter’s devastated.
And she says, “I never want to date again.”
I said, “That’s not practical. It is not realistic.”
“But it was so painful.”
“Okay, I understand that it was painful. I understand you were disappointed, but what did you learn from that experience?”
I think the thing that she learned was she needs to be honest about the important things. She might not want to admit it, but she has learned it. I don’t think she’ll be making that mistake again. And I’m also trying to teach her that just because you moved on from a situation doesn’t mean you give everything up.
My kid no longer wants to drink cucumber-infused water (even though she loves it) because her ex used to love it too. We learn from the mistakes we made, and we keep the good. We only let go of the bad, or if it wasn’t bad, and we just lost that out of our sheer mistakes. Again, we focus on that learning experience, and we move forward. Knowing that despite the fact there was some pain, there was some hurt, we learned. And it was an opportunity to become a better version of ourselves.
So, number four, I kind of already discussed it, which was, not only do we have to be willing to accept that we make mistakes, but we have to learn from those mistakes. I think it was Einstein who said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different outcomes.”
That is so true, that is so true.
It reminds me of my mother a lot because my mother handled conflict by pretending it wasn’t there, pretending it wasn’t real, and asking everyone around her to go along with her. So, eventually, this thing would snowball into this huge conflict, huge, huge conflict. Then it would just explode, called that the nuclear option, someone will always press that red button. She never learned. She kept doing the same thing over and over again.
And let me tell you, I’ve tried to do the opposite. I’ve tried to resolve conflict. But I’ve had to learn that even when you go open-minded, even when you are honest and open yourself up, it might not necessarily be received that way. But I’m okay with that. I rather live with that than live with unresolved issues. It’s a more freeing experience for me.
So, that’s what I told my daughter, “You have to understand that with freedom comes responsibility. You have to understand that you don’t always know every consequence of your actions or choices. You have to understand that you’re going to make mistakes, and you have to be willing to learn from those mistakes.”
Do my points make adulting easier? Some days it does. Some days it doesn’t. And you just kinda have to roll with it. Ultimately, being true to yourself is what will make you happy. Being a self-sufficient, responsible person always leads to more freedom and always leads to more happiness.
So, after all that time, I was just thinking that I spent talking to you about adulting and children and parenting. I would really want to know what you think of the show. So, please take five minutes to review and rate the podcast, or leave us a comment on the blog or comment on our YouTube channel.
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