I had an epiphany this past Sunday night. I finally figured out why my parents gave me an 11:00 p.m. curfew when I was in high school.
Of course, at the time I thought it was SO annoying, and I vowed I'd never do that to my own kids when I had them. Everybody else had later curfews or even better, no curfew, but not me. Nope. I'd have to leave all the fun, head home and tiptoe into our quiet home where my mom would be waiting for me. Sitting up in bed beside my sound-asleep father, leaning against a pillow and reading a book by soft lamplight. I'd always go in to let her know I was home. She'd close her book, kiss me goodnight, turn out the light and go to sleep.

Of course, as a teen, I was completely oblivious to the fact that she'd probably issued a deep sigh of relief the instant she heard my key in the front door, knowing that she'd finally, gratefully, be able to go to sleep. But on Sunday night, as I fought to stay awake awaiting our own daughter's return home, I wondered if maybe my parents had it right all along, establishing such an early curfew.

Our own daughter is… (Dare I put this in writing where she can see it?) ahem, MUCH more mature than I was at the same age. She'll probably always be more mature than me, but that's for another post. And now that she's 18, actually even when she was 17, instead of dictating a curfew to her, her father and I would have her think each situation through for herself. We'd have her go over what was happening the following day, then tell us what time she felt was appropriate to be back home. If she had to be up early for something, she'd make it an earlier evening.

Well, lately, she doesn't have to be up early for anything. So she'll sail out the door saying things like "I'll be back around midnight!" Or 12:30 p.m., sometimes even 1:00 a.m.

Uh…okay, no problem.

Well, it used to be no problem. When I was younger and used to staying out late myself it was no problem. When I wasn't in perimenopause or whatever it is that messes up women's sleep patterns when they're in their forties it was no problem.

Now, there are certain nights where I find myself struggling to keep my eyes open. Fighting to stay awake so I know she's home safe and sound. I don't know if it's an ingrained part of the mommy code, or if it's just because that's what my mom did, but I cannot go to bed until all my baby ducks are safely back in the nest. And it doesn't matter that they're 15 and 18 years old.

Our dog Oreo's dark brown eyes follow my progress back and forth as I pace the floor in my efforts to stay alert. I open the kitchen slider door to breathe in the bracing winter air, perking myself back up. I even reached the point of doing one of the kid's chores, folding the dreaded mountain of ever-ending laundry, just to keep myself moving and awake until she got home.

As much as I'm dreading this upcoming fall, when she heads off on her new college adventure, a teeny tiny part of me is relieved wondering if I'll finally be able to get some sleep. Once she's gone, I won't feel obligated to know where she's at every second. And our son will only be a sophomore, so we'll still get to dictate his curfew for the time being.

Do you think he'll notice the discrepancy if, when he's 17, we tell him he needs to be back home by say…10:00 p.m.? Man, I hope not. Bwa, ha, ha!

Clock image by macinate


Brandy said...

does it get easier?

The Girl Next Door Grows Up said...

Oh I dread that in the future! I will not be able to sleep until she gets home and I am so not a night owl.

RuthMom said...

Oh, oh, what goes around.......comes around!

Name: Holly Bowne said...

Uh...gee, I wonder who that last commenter could POSSIBLY have been. Mooooommmm?!!!

Anonymous said...

Loved your article! I'm not a mom but I was a sneaky teen back in the day. Maybe they could invent "curfew monitors" (like baby monitors) for teens? :) ha! However, they would need to cover long distances and be able to pick up sound in crowded, noisy places (and they wouldn't be allowed to turn them off).

Name: Holly Bowne said...

Oooh, nice idea. But I wonder if this idea has already been invented? Cell phones with GPS tracking! Ha, ha!

Melanie said...

When I lived at home after high school, I didn't so much have a curfew - but I was expected to give an estimated time home.

My sister lives alone (but near me) Our parents live 2000 miles away. She's 30yo, but she texts me when she gets home if she's out late at night. It's a matter of safety -- and even though she grumbled about it at first, it's just habit now. I don't care WHEN she gets home, I just want to know she's safe :) (Ever the big sister, I guess)

Dalia (Generation X Mom) said...

I just love this. I so remember those days of my father waiting up for me. Same thing..said goodnight and went to sleep. My kids are just beginning all of this so the hours haven't been too late just, but I see it coming. As for college..I am afraid to even think that far, though I am sure it will be here sooner than I think. Love your blog and am now following. I love to find blogs about moms with teenagers. Found you on MBN.

Vivianne said...

I remember those days. My parents couldn't sleep either! I still have about 7 more years before I start worrying about that, thank goodness. FYI - I believe there is some gadget out there for parents who need to track their kids.... a Kid GPS app for their cell phones!

Lea said...

I love your mom's comment! Sounds like what my mom says in response to my bellyaching about my "spirited" 7-year-old girl. :) Great post... would love to feature you on TwitterMoms if you're still OK with it. If you have a sec, drop me a line there or on Twitter (@leaswenson). Thanks!