There is a point as a parent when you first realize you see your progeny as a young adult instead of an older child. For me this has never been a transition, it has been a light bulb moment. The bulb may flicker on and off for a few more years but the realization of my child is now a man or a woman is sudden and the child-like moments that inevitably follow are sweet but temporary regressions.
My oldest son is a steady light now. My middle son has been flickering fiercely for a year or two, brighter and brighter. They are 22 and almost 20. The age of 19 or 20 seems to have been the time they grew up in my mind.
But my daughter is just approaching 16 and I am amazed to find that she has transitioned in my mind. I spent a few years thinking I would experience the legendary terrible teens with her but it never happened. I suppose it still could but somehow I don’t think so. Maybe it is because we are the same gender that I recognize the adult in her earlier; maybe girls mature as the other legend says more quickly than boys. I don’t know.
I told her I always wanted to have another woman living in the house (old fantasies of friendly, helpful nannies and lonely moments being the only stay-at-home-mom on the block when they were all young) and she said “well you got one now Sugar!” and I realized she is right. I do. It’s a lovely thing too.
My kids’ growing up doesn’t distress me. I love it. But if they move far away it will be difficult. That will be the real empty nest for me. I want to win the lottery and buy up 3 houses on my block, one for each of these lovely young adults.