This is a frequently repeated sentiment around these parts. It’s not that we resent being grown-ups; it’s just that we are aware that a lot of the carefree, devil-may-care, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, but-I’m-a-good-guy, girls-just-wanna-have-fun quality of our life has petered out to nothingness. We have our moments, yes, but we’re officially and unequivocally grown-ups.
Not only are we grown-ups, we now sound like our parents. Worse than that is that our parents suddenly sound like they made sense all along. We take this with a healthy dose of seasonings, and a nice serving of humble pie for dessert. What makes it all taste a little sweeter is that, sometime in the future, TGG will think we are the wisest, smartest, most enlightening people on the planet. I would love to be alive for that, and to help in that I am most definitely NOT holding my breath waiting for the moment (it wouldn’t be good if I fainted dead away, right?)
We are twenty days away from J legally becoming an adult. The idea of what this means is starting to sink in…like a big boulder. J, my little J, the baby of the household, the youngest one, the sweet baboo we all know and coddle and love…an adult!
We spend our entire life as parents trying to give our kids a sense of what expects them “out there.” We mix snippets of advice, wisdom, cautionary tales, lessons, etc. into the other stuff we’re trying to teach them. Toilet training is not just about hygiene, it’s a public service. We give them chores, allowances, ground them, praise them, set boundaries… All the while, the peanut gallery is inclined to -with no experience regarding the job- criticize our performance.
If I had a penny for every time I heard (or read in the kids’ eyes) “I hate you! You don’t understand me! You’re mean! Just wait ’til I have kids of my own! So-and-so’s mom wouldn’t do that to him because SHE’S cool! This is so mortifying!!! I have the worst parents EVER!!!!,” and so forth ad nauseam…I’d be like Scrooge McDuck, and I’d have a rather large, free-standing, full-to-the-rim-with-pennies vault. That, in fact, would be a good way to create a retirement plan for stay-at-home moms: have them put a dollar in a tin every time the kids say she’s the meanest mother (or any version of such a sentiment) they’ve ever known.
Let’s face it, for a few days J will be an adult with whom we cannot interfere in any way. The way this whole legal guardianship thing has unfolded will present a problem to us (and thank you, The Attorney, for that gem.) Even after we resolve the guardianship issues, the rules of the game will have changed. Our obligation to J is, from here on end, moral rather than legal, until we assume legal responsibility for his affairs once more thanks to the court. That we are hoping this is not the period of time during which he gets sick and requires a hospital (because we don’t have a power of attorney in place to ensure we’ll get the information and participation we need in his treatment,) has an accident or does something that -though innocent to him- can be misconstrued by others who seek police intervention (not that he would, but if you saw a big dude walking towards you rather quickly with something metallic in his hand, wouldn’t you perhaps freak out a bit???)…
As I wade through a lagoon of J-related paper, I find myself more and more aware of the enormity of the changes we’re about to experience. Having to face the legal implications of J’s 18th birthday has made me realize what a sweet deal TGG has been getting all these years.
For example, whatever benefits J receives after his birthday are intended for his living expenses; being his guardians doesn’t obligate us to pay his living expenses so he could, within reason and proportionate to his means, help with household expenses; J’s benefits are contingent on his needs, so if he doesn’t show that he has a need for the money he receives, they cut his benefits to a smaller amount. As his mom (who carried him around in the internal pouch in which babies travel for 40 solid weeks, breastfed him for four years, has taken care of him every single day even when I was ready to scream and jump from the highest mountain,) this lesser obligation to my child is pretty had to understand. TGG is nearly 22, and I still consider him my “baby,” but I know he isn’t…
This is the bone I’m chewing on right now, and I’m sure there will be those who say “what a bad parent” I am. Whatever! TGG has been talking (for quite a while now) about moving out and finding his own place. I don’t mind that at all; I think every young person needs, at one point or another, to leave the nest that has been so neatly feathered for them from childhood by the parental units. I am starting to realize that, in spite of our most earnest efforts and his apparent understanding of what we’ve been saying, it hasn’t quite sunk in with TGG that living here with us, and having us provide groceries, utilities, etc. is a courtesy we are extending, not the fulfillment of an obligation.
How did I come to realize this? Well, it was because, in the midst of the whole J guardianship/conservatorship/benefits kerfuffle, I’ve done my best to keep TGG up to speed so that he will understand our purpose in attaining guardianship/conservatorship and the purpose of the benefits J would be receiving monthly. I explained about the possibility of a bigger unit, with higher rent, and J contributing to that monthly expense, and TGG simply said oh, OK, without stopping to think about that would mean for him.
We have been going ’round and ’round with this whole thing for months.
TGG- “I want to move out.”
Us- “OK. What’s your budget?”
TGG – “I can get a place for about $45o a month.”
Us – “Utilities included?”
TGG – “I think so.”
Us – “Have you figured out how much you would need for car insurance, renter’s insurance, groceries, incidentals.”
TGG – “Um…yeah.”
Us – “How much would you need?”
TGG – “Um…I dunno.”
Us – “Where are you looking?”
TGG – “The apartment complex down the road. A two-bedroom would be $900 so it’s $450 per person.”
Us – “Do they find you a roommate?”
TGG – “Um…so-and-so (his best friend from out-of-state) is looking for a job so he can get money to move out here and we can get a place together…”
Us – “…”
TGG – “What?!”
Us – “Um…nothing. When is he thinking of moving then?”
TGG – “When he finds a job and he can get the money!”
Us – “…”
TGG – “WHAT???!!!”
Us – “Nothing. Just wondering. If we get a bigger place, J would contribute to the rent, we’d carry all the other expenses and he could use the rest of his benefits for the things he wants. You could do the same.”
TGG – “IF I want to go, right?”
Us – “Yes, of course. IF you want to move with us. You’d get your own room. We’d buy the food, pay utilities, etc. Consider it.”
TGG – “Well, I can always come back, right?”
I don’t know how to tell him that once you leave your parents’ house, you pretty much become a permanent guest if you return.
Being a grown-up…it really, really sucks…