I had a brief discussion with my mother this morning about how much I am enjoying the children now that they're older & more independent. I like that they are able to do for themselves, to think for themselves, and I love watching them grow & learn and become their own people. I actually realise now that I very much dislike the baby stage - as lovely as they are, personally I think they're quite boring and in all honesty I am finding that parenting children (rather than 'taking care of a baby') is much more rewarding.
I love that we can drop what we're doing and go wherever we like on a whim without having to load up with nappies, bottles, bags, pushchairs and all the endless baby paraphernalia that you need or worry that they might need a feed or a nap, or messing up a routine. They feed themselves (the trick with teenagers is getting them to stop bloody feeding themselves), they dress themselves, they are interactive. My mum likened it to being like a dog with pups, after a certain length of time they expect the puppies to take care of themselves and I thought - well actually, yes, because isn't that the whole point?
Eventually, & as much as I will miss them terribly when they're off on their own, I want them to live full, happy and independent lives. As the quote above states, "It's not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings". If my children, as adults, are expecting me to fund their lifestyle, raise their children, or just generally run around after them an exorbitant amount - then in my opinion, I won't have done my job as their mother.
I'm not talking about favours, or babysitting, or buying the odd gift. I will fully expect my children to learn to take care of themselves, and then their own families, without needing constant input from me. I will teach them to cook, clean, sew, budget, save - whatever I have to do to help them find their way in the world, but I do expect them to do it on their own when they leave home. I'm sure I'll end up with a bag of laundry now & again, and "Mum can I borrow a tenner" and the like, but I will draw the line at parenting an adult. I believe that I would have done them a disservice by doing so.
I'm expecting that L will need a different level of assistance as he grows up, but at the same time I expect that he will lead an independent life and have a family of his own one day, too. It might take a little longer to get him there, but having Autism doesn't mean he can't one day be just as self-sufficient as his siblings.
Their father & I will always be there for all five of them no matter what, whatever they need we will always help them if we can - but the key word is help, there will be no constant hand-holding. It's not that unreasonable to expect them to take care of themselves as adults - is it? I'd love to hear your thoughts.