You know how teenagers in America and their parents look like they cannot wait for the fateful age of 18 years old for them all to break free. I have always found it scary, as for me an 18 years old child is still in his/her infancy!
When I think of myself at 18, I cannot fathom being thrown out of the house to confront the world. I was kind of sheltered for a long time, but my sisters, for example, grew up faster than me!
At 18, I had no clue what so ever! Don’t get me wrong, though. I knew my left from my right: I knew I did not want to smoke cannabis even if some friends were passing it on right under my nose and I did not have a boyfriend yet, although let us not rewrite history here, this would not stay true for too long. And I was a strong feminist, too: I am a woman, yes, so what?
I had strong opinions but I really did not know what I wanted to do with my life, what I wanted to study, and I ended up wasting a lot of time. Although I will not say that it was really wasted as not doing anything is also part of growing, as I read somewhere and I believe it to be true! But only as far as I am concerned (This is a cautionary statement in case any children of mine would want to quote me on this!)
Fortunately my children are by far more organized and focused than I was at their age, I don’t think I would have stand a child like myself! I think that I am rather kind and nice but not focused enough, just too much going with the flow.
As I have already said earlier, I was lucky enough that my older daughter decided to come and have a look out here, on our planet earth, because she is the one that anchored me to this life and stopped my drifting away.
Not that I am a protective mother, I am not. Don’t tell anybody, but I can easily forget about my children a few days in a row! And when they were studying abroad, I was not monitoring their every move. Nonetheless, I found out recently that even if my relationship with my children is not always on a day-to-day basis, my emotional life is pretty much centered on them.
I have just realized that I cannot function properly if they are not functioning properly. It is as if I am linked to them with some invisible bond I was not aware of before. I would not mind them crossing oceans to go and live for years at the other end of the globe, but as soon as I feel them sad or lost, I become lost myself.
I don’t know if that is what every mother feels at various degrees, but this is what I am experiencing. It is a little contradictory I know, on one hand I am not disturbed with not seeing them for long stretch of time, and on the other hand, I feel disoriented when something is not right in their life.
So, although I think 18 years old is too young to leave the nest, I don’t mind my child living on her own once she finishes her studies and starts working. I would even prefer it to be the norm. I will not suffer from empty nest syndrome as I strongly believe that everyone of us has a beautiful life to live at any age and a woman’s life certainly cannot be defined by raising children alone.
When I first arrived in Nigeria, I didn’t understand the need to stay close to your family, brothers, sisters, cousins…, but I grew to appreciate the moral support and joy of being together it can bring to your life. However, I don’t agree with the idea that a young woman should stay indefinitely in her father’s house until she gets married. The cohabitation between parents and young adults can quickly become frustrating, as everybody needs more space, with boyfriends drama and all. But this is a story for another day!