I don't have children, but I have teenagers.
For the last few years, I've devoted much of my free time to a youth organization. A former member myself, it occurred to me one day I could give back to them. So once a week, I meet with about a doezen girls, ages 13 to 18, and on a lot of weekends, you'll find my chaperoning events or going on retreats. About once a month I try to take some of the kids from other chapters that I am close with to lunch or coffee.
I don't have children, but I have teenagers. Whom I think I love as if they were my children. Or, at the very least, my younger siblings.
Never, in a million years, did I think I would become so attached to these kids.
Parents, I don't know how you do this. This whole having kids thing.
I've spent a lot of weekends with the group but this past weekend was unique for me, though I cannot tell you why. I was just more emotional. I'm not big on crying in public but they got me. And they got me a LOT. I won't bore you with our structure and our rules and politics but just know this has been a tough year for these kids. And they were acting out as a result. It was hard to take. It was hard to control them. When I felt like I was REALLY losing it, I had to step out of the room.
I used to have quite a temper and while I am usually pretty tolerant these days, I can still find my inner Hulk from time to time...
When they hurt or they cry, it became custom for me to cry as well. I can only imagine it is similar to how parents feel when their kids hurt.
When they celebrated and won awards, I cried then, too. Tears of joy.
Of course, when they did something incredibly stupid, I laughed. But only before fighting the urge to pull my hair out and flip a table New Jersey style.
But at least I get to go home to solitude in the end.
Like I said, parents, I don't know how you do this. This whole having kids thing.