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Parents of grown children help guide the path for others

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, May 13, 2014, at 3:40 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, May 14, 2014, at 6:03 a.m.

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During a party recently, my husband and I were talking to some family friends whose children are grown, graduated, out of the house and on their own.

They asked how things were going for us, with two teenagers at home.

“Busy,” I said.

Then I thought (but didn’t say out loud): Duh! Suzanne?! Could you possibly, just once, think of something, anything, better to say about this season of your life than “busy?” I mean, please. Busy? Everybody’s busy. Have an original thought.

“It’s May,” I said, out loud again, shrugging. “May is nuts. It’s just so, you know, busy.”

Stephanie smiled and nodded, while I, in my mind again, slapped my forehead, Chris Farley-style, and shouted, “Gah, idiot! You’re so stupid, stupid, stupid!!”

But that’s what May is, when you have school-age children. That’s what we are. Busy.

There’s no other word for this homestretch of the school year, when calendars fill with concerts, plays, ball games, field trips, graduations, class parties, award ceremonies and the 786 rehearsals required to get ready for those other things. In between, you have to make summer plans – sign permission forms, schedule physicals, enroll and pay for summer camps, reserve a spot at driving school.

If there is another word for May, I’m too busy to think about what it might be.

But there stood Stephanie, smiling and rested, sipping a glass of Chardonnay and likely thinking about her next round of golf. Her husband, who is retired, joked that he doesn’t have to remember anything anymore – more curse than blessing, he tried to explain.

“You’re in the thick of it right now,” he said. “But that’s good. It’s a good thing.”

It’s great to have friends with children a little older than yours. They’re reference points on the confusing road map of parenthood, guiding and assuring you it’s all going to be OK. Or even if it isn’t, you’ll work through it somehow.

Talking to these mentors – and I’ve had several over the years – I gain valuable advice but also perspective, which is crucial because it’s impossible to see the forest when you’re walking amid 30-foot-tall trees. Friends have guided me through breastfeeding, potty training and kindergarten enrollment. More recently we have shared stories about driving, dating and shopping for colleges.

At the recent party, my husband and I marveled at what lovely adults our friends’ daughters had become. More than that, the young women actually credit their parents with setting high expectations and raising them in a climate of honesty, kindness and mutual respect.

This mom and dad have even achieved the Holy Grail of parenting: the “you guys weren’t so bad after all” thank you from their children. Unofficial but worthy of a final note in the baby book.

My husband, Randy, flanked by Hannah and Jack, smiled at Stephanie and said, “Yeah, I hope these guys turn out all right.”

Hannah, 16, stared blankly at Stephanie and back at her father.

“I’m mostly turned out,” she said. “I don’t know what you think you’re going to change in the next couple years.”

Dry sense of humor? Check.

We’ll keep working on the driving.

Reach Suzanne Perez Tobias at 316-268-6567 or stobias@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @suzannetobias.

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