Stalking My Kids

Lisa writes: When my kids were little they stalked me.  They followed me from room to room, they banged on the bathroom door and almost never left my side.  Sometimes I loved it, sometimes it made me mental, and sometimes I worried they would never successfully separate.  I wondered why they wanted to be with me so much, stalking day and night.  I thought it might be a little like our Labrador who follows me around every evening hoping to be fed.  Yet they still seemed to want to be with me even after they knew how to open the refrigerator door.  Now I find,  it is me, stalking my kids.

NYC nightlife, NYC

Sometimes I would say to them, why do you want to come with me?  I realized that whatever I was doing would be slowed down by their presence and when I was in a hurry, I felt frustration.  But they wanted to be with me, even if the task was tedious, and irrelevant to them. If I just wanted to roam, they wanted to know where we were going. I loved being with them, loved everything about their presence, but their questions could wear me out.  They seemed happy just to be with me.

Then it struck me.  They wanted my life.  They wanted to be able to go where they wanted and do what they wanted.  They wanted to call the shots and be the person who made things happen, even if it was just going to the grocery store or, on a good day, Toys R Us.

Now they have that life.  Two are grown, out the door, and the third is in possession of a driver’s license.  The eldest has an apartment for the summer and the middle one left days ago to squat on his brother’s couch and soak in the City Life.

And now I find I want to stalk my kids.  I want to be 21 years old and see New York City anew. I want to live in an apartment with almost no belongings and hold impromptu parties on Friday nights feeling no compulsion to provide my guests with anything other than cheap beer.

So last night I was stalking them.  With the feeble excuse of bringing some extra sheets for the couch surfing brother, I drove into NY to see them.  I followed them from room to room looking at the apartment, I talked to one through the bathroom door and helped carry garbage to the downstairs.  I wandered the building’s basement and asked where the laundry room was and if the closed door was a gym.  I asked about work being done in the hall and why they had left the air conditioner on when they went out.  They looked at each other, with an expression that could only have said, “This would have been faster without her.”

When we left the apartment it was late and dark and I asked where we were going.  I was told, “We will find something, Mom.”  We stopped at a small take-out and picked up falafel and humus.  We wandered over to a teeming Union Square with bags of wonderful smelling food.  All the benches were full and my kids sat themselves down on some steps. The ground was dirty, my pants were white and I had a handbag that I would not have set down on my own clean kitchen floor.  The air was sticky and humid and teens swirled around us on the skateboards. The person next to me was blowing smoke in my direction and there were buses idling on the road nearby emitting noxious fumes.  But I was just happy to be with them.

photo credit (above): Tasayu Tasnaphun

+ Lisa Endlich Heffernan



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Comments

  1. “They wanted my life” is an amazing insight.

    I’m enjoying the fact that as my kids are getting older our abilities and interests are starting to overlap so the choices about what we can do while we are together are improving. I always felt bad when I got bored with the tea parties or the simple puzzles because I wanted to be with my kids but I wanted more to do. Now that there are real games and new places to explore it’s a big improvement.

    (I’ve been lamenting how much I miss my kids as littler people, so thank you for causing me to see this from a more positive perspective!)

    • Thank you for reading and lending your thoughts. It is hard not to lament each stage as it flies by…

  2. Love this. I will have two in highschool next year and I am already starting to think about how sad it will be when they are off to college. Glad I found your blog.

    • SO glad you found us. We have college age kids and seniors in high school…this blog might get a little weepy next year.

  3. So true and so quickly the tables and the stalking turn, don’t they? What’s such a gift is when they still love having Mom along for the ride. Had to smile at your step hesitation. Been there so many times and yes, still, happy to be with them.

    • Told myself to go with it…there would be few warm wonderful nights in the CIty with my two older sons. Mom 101 wrote a great piece about how there is only now…I am trying to remember that.

  4. That sounds like a fun evening! I’d like to live in the city and eat falafel, and not worry about cooking for anyone else, too.

  5. Loved this post. Wish I could stalk my own adult kids but they are 3,000 miles away in two different directions. So now I stalk them on Facebook. I am glad that you were able to have this carefree evening.

  6. Oh, how true this post is! I stalk my kids relentlessly now……And I often catch the shared look that passes between them, the slight sigh and almost eye roll……
    Glad you had fun in NYC, white pants and all!

  7. This is one of the best stories I have read recently. You’re a good writer who made me feel like I was there.

  8. My daughter is in Rome right now on overseas study; you better believe I’m stalking her on Facebook for pictures, information, is she having fun, etc. And you better believe I’d love to be 19 again with the option to live and study overseas! Loved your post.

    • My son just returned from studying overseas, this is jealousy that knows no bounds, truly beyond words! I hope she has a wonderful semester.

  9. That’s such a perfect way of putting it! I have a toddler who stalks me from room to room. But now my mom is sort of my online stalker who follows the every online movement of my son and me!

    • Stalking online…a whole new arena. And grandparent stalking, you bring up some great material.

  10. LL says:

    So worth getting the pants dirty!

  11. Love this, Lisa. Sounds like a fun night! I love the parallel of them stalking us when they were small and now we are stalking them. So true!

    • It was slightly surreal being in their “home”. I am used to dorm rooms, but this was something entirely different, and really wonderful.

  12. Love this – I too remember the constant buzz of little people everywhere I went! I had a similar experience a few weeks ago when I went to visit my daughter at her office – how strange to be introduced around by this young executive, but I was bursting with pride!

  13. Ahhh, how the tables have turned. I know the feeling well :)

    • That is exactly what has happened, I am just hoping sometime in the distant future, with grandkids born, they will turn again!

  14. happy outlook says:

    I can totally relate to this post!

  15. It is such a flip, having your kids grow up. Mine isn’t quite there yet (she is only nine – almost ten), but I am noticing her following me a little less these days.

    • Tracie, that is just about the age they stopped being my shadows but it took another decade before I became theirs!

  16. Carpool Goddess says:

    When they’re home they still follow me around, for the most part, LOL. But when I go to visit them, they’re all grown up and independent. It’s so odd!

  17. That’s really touching. Since I’ve left home and got married, I notice a little of this about my Mum – she often says she doesn’t feel like she really knows how things are going with me any more. I should make more of an effort, I reckon.

  18. i know how you feel but it’s fun-this new phase. it also puts to rest that feeling we have that the changes that empty nest will bring to our relationship with our children are final. that somethings over. somethings been over since the first step they took but something new has always been right behind it. you always put it so beautifully.

    • Sandy ti seems that we always know how each other feels…amazing for two people who have never met!

  19. This is such a great post! How funny how the tables have turned! My youngest will be moving out in three weeks, and luckily it isn’t far away, but I’m already thinking of ways to see her and hang out. We have always been real close, so I know she doesn’t mind, but I still feel a bit guilty bugging her. Now that I read this though, I shouldn’t, since she did the same as a child!!

    • I always tread that very fine line between letting them have their lives and being wrapped up in our family. The other night I told my 20 year old when to go to bed….stepped over the line.

  20. Great article. I try to stalk mine also, but with one in Manila, and the other in Boston, it’s kind of hard. It’s really nice when I get a facetime chat or a text, but boy would I love to be with them. My daughter goes to law school next year so we’re holding on to her as much as possible. thanks

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