I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living
My baby you’ll be.
Those words are from a children’s book written by Robert Munsch called Love You Forever. The book is actually kind of bizarre, though the sentiment – that parents love their children forever — is sweet. At one point in the book, the mother looks through her grown son’s window, then comes in and takes the adult man into her arms while he continues to sleep in order to recite the above poem to him. Yeah, now that’s just creepy. I promise I won’t ever do this.
I had actually never heard of the book, but my very good friend gave me a copy of the book when my mother died. Creepy or not, the book made me bawl like a baby.
I have said before and I will say again that when Bill and I got married, his kids became mine and mine became his. Nevertheless, Bill and I each have a special feeling and relationship about and with our birth children. We were, after all, with them even before they were born. We helped shape and mold them from the time they could walk and talk. Their first words were Mama and Dada, and that meant us! Having stepchildren is simply a bonus gift from God.
I have lunch with my birth son Court once a week or so, and I look forward to it a great deal. It’s fun to sit and talk about his grown up life. I love hearing about his job, and laugh at his stories about his kids. I’m very happy that he lives close to me and I have the opportunity to see him often.
The thing is, as parents, we never stop loving our children. The relationship between children and parents is one that, if it’s as it should be, provides security in a world that is often crazy. If you can’t trust your mom or your dad, who can you trust?
And when Court calls me and asks to meet me for lunch or a drink after work, or maybe come for dinner, I feel like a teenager who just got asked to the prom by the quarterback. So very pathetic.
But it isn’t just me. Bill is the same way. Last winter when we were in Arizona, Bill’s middle son Dave was able to visit us since he had a work-related meeting in Phoenix. Bill was understandably excited to see him, and eagerly awaited his arrival. He spent the entire day preparing the house. He bought new outdoor plants. He sprayed our grass so that it would be really green. He watched the progress of Dave’s plane on his smart phone like it was carrying Lord Grantham and he was the valet Mr. Bates (Downton Abbey? People. I shouldn’t have to explain this!)
He did the same more recently as we awaited the arrival of Heather and Lauren and the boys. Cleaned, straightened, tracked their flight. And nothing makes him happier than when all three of his kids are at his dinner table.
My guess is, however, that his kids would never suspect that to be the case. He greets them pleasantly, but with no overt enthusiasm. He is a man, after all. Can’t display our feelings….
A recent political television ad told me (and you KNOW you can trust everything those ads say) that one-third of adult children between the ages of 18 and 31 live with their parents. I did my own double check on that fact because it seemed really high to me. What I learned is that the census data from which this number comes includes college students who live away from home during the academic year. Nevertheless, the number is striking.
Court lived with us for a while as he finished college here in Denver. It worked fine, but he was as eager to move out on his own as we were to say goodbye.
Here’s the thing: your kids are always your kids, even when they’re all grown up. You interact differently with them than you did when they were inquisitive 3-year-olds or sassy 12-year-olds. You don’t necessarily sleep with one ear waiting for the telephone to ring like you did when they were 16 and out with your car.
But you worry just the same. You want to make their lives easier if you can. You want to help them make good decisions if you are able to do so without being a buttinsky, though that’s nearly impossible.
And you love them forever.
You just don’t peek in their windows.