Raising kids is all about phases and milestones. Some are harder than others, but it seems that every phase sneaks up and catches me a little unprepared.
We’ve entered a new one: the addition of the significant others.
Really, we’ve been practicing this phase since Oldest was in high school. I won’t say much about that experience, except to say that I have rarely celebrated as joyously as I did the day she told me that particular relationship (which kept me awake at nights for three years) was ended. I mean, that one wasn’t abusive or dangerous – just as WRONG as it could possibly be. I cringed every time that guy entered our house.
I suppose there’s a positive aspect to the fact that that initial experience with the significant other phase was so crummy. It made me appreciate the next significant other that much more.
Summary of our current situation:
Oldest comes home a week from Monday. A few days after Christmas her boyfriend, who she met while an undergrad in Chicago, joins us for several days. That was my idea, because we don’t get to see him much, and he’s a great guy. Plus I knew it would mean a lot to Oldest to get to spend time with him over the holidays.
Tonight The Boy brings his new girlfriend home to spend the night – he’s making a flying trip from his college town to attend our high school’s Christmas concert. Again, the addition of new girlfriend on this trip was my idea. I’ve met her briefly, and want to get to know her better. The Boy was thrilled that I offered the invitation. As much as we liked the previous girlfriend, I have a feeling something’s a little more serious about this relationship.
Perhaps the most interesting development, though, is the relationship Middle Sister has been in for the last couple of months. A great kid she met at her university – because he lives in town we’re getting plenty of opportunities to get to know him. He’s her first real boyfriend, he’s perfect for her, and he fits right in with our weird family.
The thing is, at the ages our kids are at, any new relationship could possibly be “the one.” Not that I’m rooting for anyone to settle down and get married right away. Please, let’s graduate first and start a career. But I feel it’s important to go out of my way to create my own good relationship with the people they care about. And holy cow, am I ever thankful that in each case, at this point, we’re welcoming into our home and our life people I genuinely like.
It’s a new aspect of parenting, and I’m figuring it out just like so many other phases we’ve been through. By the seat of my pants.