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