I have an adult child.

My oldest son walked across the stage a few months ago and received his high school diploma. I have practiced saying this to myself silently, but it has taken some time to be able to say it out loud.

In my mind, I secretly don’t think I’m old enough for this new stage of parenting.

I watched him walk across the stage and I thought that was just me yesterday.
He is the same age now as his father and I were when we met. I was 18 years old, a new high school graduate on top of the world, naïve enough to think that everything I had planned would go just that—according to plan. My son arrived approximately 16.5 months later and blew every plan I thought I had out of the water. Yes, we eventually added four kids after him, but he was the one who made me a mom. He was the one who taught me patience, and how to revel in the simple things, and that I was much, much stronger than I had ever believed.

And now when people ask how many kids I have, I never know how precisely to respond.

“Well five, but one is an adult.” It seems like the right answer, but the wrong one at the same time, a conundrum of explaining how the years flew by in the blink of an eye, but during the hard phases seemed agonizingly slow.

Yesterday he was a little boy recklessly flying down the sidewalk on his first bicycle. Now he scares my mom heart with his driving and his use of power tools.

He has been the child whose hand I most frequently have ended up holding in the emergency room. He is the child I had to be careful not to entitle as “the man of the house” when his father and I divorced because I felt that was too much of a load for a teenage boy. And somehow he assumed that role anyway, willingly fixing the sink and mowing the lawn when he probably should have been out making mischief with his friends.

As he reaches this new stage in his life, I question where my role as his mom is supposed to take me next.

Is my work here done?
Did I do enough to teach him how to be a responsible adult?
Do I still call him my “kid?”
Is he still going to need me?

I think this is how it works when you have an adult child, but I’m not quite sure. Like we did the day he was born, he and I are learning to navigate this new stage together.

He comes and goes, and I don’t ask as many questions as I once would have about where he’s been or what he’s doing. I know I have to trust that he is making the right decisions.

He is an adult now, a high school graduate, a young man with two jobs and his own life. He has his own ideas for what his future holds, whether I agree with all of those thoughts or not.

I should remind him that not everything always goes according to plan, but part of letting go is letting him figure that out on his own.

I know the day is coming where he is going to walk in the door and say “Mom, I got my own place.” I can feel it. And I dread it.

But for now, I still ask him to pick up his socks. And I still yell at him when he leaves a mess in the kitchen.

Once my kid, always my kid.

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Amy Geurden

Amy Geurden is a single mom of five, writer, marketing specialist, advocate for early childhood education, and lover of all things outdoors. She believed in the power of imagination, positive thoughts, and having your "village" to get you through the hard days.