My Mom is awesome. And I know everyone says that, but my Mom is really awesome. For example, as a lot of 22-year-olds do, I moved back home after college when I started my first job.
I was jazzed to have employment (in my chosen field, even), but I was barely making enough money to scrape together the cash for the gas it required for me to commute—let alone actually afford my own place. So I moved back into my parents’ place and used it as a halfway house to help me transition into the real world.
My parents have always been about fostering independence, so when I moved back into the nest, they asked me to help around the house—both financially and with normal chores. It wasn’t the same situation as it was when I lived there just a few years prior during high school. I was now an adult, and even though we were living under the same roof just like when I was 14, it was important to both me and my parents that our relationship transitioned to an adult relationship. I did my own laundry. I paid my own bills. I got my own oil changed.
That paid-absolutely-nothing job turned out to be a complete dud. I worked there for 10 months, and it was honestly one of the hardest times of my life. I was unhappy in my job—it’s crazy how a toxic workplace can infect your entire life. My then-boyfriend, now-husband, was living in another country. I was commuting up to two hours a day—sobbing in the car everyday. All my friends were spread across the country post-college. Oh, and did I mention I wasn’t getting paid enough to do…well…anything? It was just a really joyless time in my life.
Now that I’m a mother, I can see how difficult that must have been for my nurturing, supportive, and empathetic Mama. To see me come in the door each evening, totally defeated, and stay supportive, but also allow me to struggle through it in my own way.
There are a lot of difficult things in parenthood (a lot), but I think that the most difficult is letting your kid struggle. I believe it’s important to struggle. It builds character, and it (eventually) builds confidence. But man, is it heart-wrenching to watch your kid struggle. Your first instinct is to fix it. And fix it NOW. But that’s not always the best thing for them. That’s true for my two-year-old, and was certainly true when I was 22-years-old.