Let me introduce myself… I’m your mom, Jenn. I play soccer, go on late night cruises with my boyfriend in his bitching ’76 Camaro, I live out of a backpack so I can go wherever whenever, I love music, and I never turn down a hamburger.
I eat whatever I want, don’t gain a pound, I have a nice ass, I can throw my hair around and it always looks good. I use hairspray and lots of it when I go dancing. I can pull off heels like nobody else and I can also run across town in them like nothing.
I have a totally hot boyfriend that I can’t keep my hands off of. He takes me out every night and we usually spend the night at his work place because our dates usually end when he has to show up for work.
He lets me drive his car even though I don’t have a drivers license and that’s saying something. Because his car is his signature. It’s silver and black and has a two tone tint job that he must have saved for through years because I’m sure the lightning bolts on the side windows must have cost a fortune.
He calls me on the phone and we sit and talk for hours. He’s the best guy I have ever dated and though we both said that we weren’t looking for anything serious when we met, we haven’t mentioned that in a while. We actually can’t stand to spend anytime apart at this point.
It’s clear we are deeply, madly, and passionately in love. And, now I’m thinking about marriage, kids, and all that because I’ve met this amazing man. And I can only imagine how hot it would be to make his babies. I never really gave too much thought to all this, because at seventeen why would I?
So we made a baby…
But, what we didn’t realize is that the baby would be making us. We just got to have the fun doing it…like the several hours we spent everyday making sexy time. I mean hours and hours. The kind of stuff you can do in your young years.
I celebrated my eighteenth birthday, VIP backstage pass to Ringo Starr, first time to Vegas, and the Rush concert knocked up with our first child. Because I wanted to. We wanted to. We wanted a baby more than we thought because with every contraceptive available right there on our nightstand table, we usually never grabbed any one of them. We chose life. And we got it.
And it would be the last time I would see this belly…Or party, drunk, and single couple pictures like this…
Nope… no more late nights partying on the beach, tripping mushrooms, college football bonfires, six hour sex nights, random road trips, sitting in the driveway talking till sunrise, living on twenty bucks for a week, sleeping on friends couches, bailing friends out of jail on spring break, having a spring break, winter break, or summer break.
With no hairspray, heels, or drugs (birthing drugs to clarify), birth was given to us as a young couple. Most people say that they gave birth, but we were the ones that were birthed from this process.
Austin, you were amazing and life changing. The love that you came from, outstanding.
Do you know what it’s like to live for someone else? Do you know what it’s like to completely give up your life to hopefully, and I do mean hopefully, do something right with it? Do you know what it’s like to love? Do you know what it’s like to trust one another? Do you know how to give up everything you’ve ever loved or had so that you could share?
Have you ever spent thirty years in a cabin?
(Watch the whole thing or get off my blog)
We figured out this advice on our own. We lived it. And twenty something years later we wrote a book on what we did with that advice.
I’m 39 now. I have added more kids to our story (talking about you, Kes & Sunny). I have married my husband, your dad, three times over the last twenty years since we are that in love. And I’m now an author.
And for the first time after twenty two years of giving ourselves completely to raising you kids, we’re becoming Greg and Jenn again…
In just a few more months, Sunny – you will become our last legal adult kid. And this signifies the final work we have to do to set you forth in the world.
For you and for us.
Becoming sort of roommates this last year we have allowed you the space and responsibility at your ages, and your life in college has clouded our boundaries as parents and kids.
Not in a bad way, more of a ‘have a ton of friends over, dirty dishes, messes, sleepovers, homework, not seeing you much anymore, and video games‘ versus ‘we just wanna walk around naked in our house without running into your friends, dinner for two, afternoon drives, date nights, overnight trips away, and drinks alone‘ kind of way.
With all of you now grown up, we’ve been able to spend the most time together as a couple than we have in years and have been able to decide what kind of life we want now that ya’ll don’t need us as much.
And after twenty two years of giving ourselves away, I think that’s a fair trade.
We’re learning to leave you kids behind and pick up where we left off twenty two years ago. We’re learning that this is hard and is almost like mourning.
We are also learning that it’s not too hard at the same time. For the last year, we have been frustrated at how there is virtually no good way to do this. I find it way more work than when we brought our first baby home as new parents (talking about you, Austin).
We have to let you go yet we will always be there for you.
We all have to let go of what we have been and become our own people for the first time since we started our family.
Thank you for changing our lives.
11 Replies to “Then You Grew Up…”
Becoming Barenaked is on its way to Memphis – i will read happily!! paul and i luv y’all so much. happy holidays ;o)
Thanks Missy! Love and miss you all. Happy holidays to one of the most amazing families we know!
I just got back from visiting my 22 year old daughter in FL. Just about 4 years ago, I took her down there to start college. I am a single parent and knew I would miss her, but getting on the plane to go home was overwhelming. Our job as parents is to work ourselves out of a job, but ‘retiring’ is a bear.
I very much enjoy the blog. Best of luck to all of you.
You’re right. It’s nice to hear from parents who have exited child raising and into retirement of sorts…We’ve found this very confusing, yet freeing at the same time. Thanks for reading our stuff and sharing your stories as well. Really love it!
Your last paragraph is my life right now. After raising four boys (we are a blended family), with our last one 18 years old, we have decided to be full time RVers. We are redefining who we are since we were never a couple without a family. So I will definitely be following you all!!
Congrats! Sound like you guys know what we’re talking about. Good luck moving into the RV lifestyle! It’s a wonderful way to live and think you’ll find yourselves out there on the open road. Appreciate you reading our stuff!
With barely anything left in my bank account, I decided to buy you a beer, because you made me cry and gave me courage. We gotta move out. We’re so deep in debt I can’t pay the bills let alone buy groceries. I had it growing up, I wanted it again. Never mind that I also wanted to spend my days walking the earth for hourly pay, and have kids, and a retirement income, and an artist dreamer spouse who prefers his guitar to a time clock every time. We have love, and we have our kids, and we have some land, poor though it is. I can do this, I can. I have to. Thanks for this blog. I stumbled over it. We can find a use RV and park it on our land and take the chickens with us. Write to me if you want – be a cheerleader and courageous Momma guide. I’m gonna need females with big dreams and, well, balls. When you drink that beer, send a word to the Universe for us. My man could live in a cardboard box if he had to, and if he had me. I’m the wimp wanna be brave one. Momma always said Pride was the devil’s favorite tool. Thanks for your bravery. (I don’t need this comment public, really, I;d prefer if it’s just for you.)
Thank you for sharing your inspiring story! My husband and I hit the mental jackpot a couple weeks ago when we decided to do it. Broke, jobless, even with a job we toil away just to make ends meet & to maintain our stuff. We’ve decided to leave behind the material life & status quo to pursue our dream of actually living our lives and raising/teaching our children! We have 3 together who live with us ages 2, 5, 7, & my husband has 2 older boys from previous relationships who spend weekends with us ages 12 & 14. We were already going to pull our first grader out of public (charter) this fall. It’s always been my dream to travel. Once a mom my dream was still to travel & road school. But being well below the poverty line, maintaining a home AND traveling is impossible. We are letting our lease expire in July, are selling most if our stuff, storing the rest including our 2nd vehicle to buy a travel trailer to put on our retro conversion van. Going to manage a low rent living situation for the next 6-12 months while we save & prepare for hitting the road in the spring. I’m going to be selling Amway & Young Living Essential Oils. I also play French horn & have been hired to play before, so that’s a possibility. My husband can find various jobs, he’s bit college educated but he’s mechanically inclined & a critical thinker. Right now my biggest worry is having adequate income on the road. We’ve been on food assistance for some years and as much as we dislike dependency on gov’t it’s been invaluable. Not sure if we can qualify for that on the road or not. I could do travel nursing if I had gotten my license after graduating from the nursing program but that’s it’s own story!
If you have any advice or resources we would be do grateful!
Looking forward to the journey ahead. I have confidence it will work because I know how we are doing it now sure isn’t working & we both feel the call! Anyways, I’d love to hear anything you have to offer!
Thank you and way to be a pioneer! At least these days there’s internet resources, networking, & lots of families road-schooling. I commend you!
Hey Laura, thanks for posting. Sounds like you’re on a path. Most we know that ‘full time’ cannot maintain a house and travel. We never did. Traveling income is the holy grail of the life. Lots of resources and blogs for ideas. Ours usually came from simple hustle – always seeking and asking for work. Staying put long enough also helped to reduce expenses (monthly or weekly site rentals) and save some income. I’ve always been amused when people would treat us like wealth helped us live this life – you do know we live in trailer parks – is my common response. Look for Jenn on Facebook.com/bnfamily. She interacts often there. All our best! -Degs
AMAZING family and story! I recently read an article about your family and your journey to hit the road full-time while, “schooling” your children. My husband and I have been contemplating hitting the road for years but, I was never really on board. I just recently had my “ah ha!” moment and so now we have begun the “where do we start” phase. The article that I read, literally answered many of my “what if” questions and “where in the world do we start?!” 😉 We are fortunate that we dont currently own our residence and that 2 of our 4 vehicles are paid off however, we still have sooooo much to downsize. Hopefully we will fully commit soon and be on the road by June or July! The daily rat race has us pinned down and its exhausting. Cant wait to wake up to freedom and peace 🙂
Hi Catherine and family! Thanks for commenting and it’s so great to hear from you and your journey. Jenn interacts a lot on facebook at barenakedfamily and Jenn White. I’m at Degs Bnf and the book Jenn wrote, Becoming Barenaked, is recently published and available on Amazon. It’s a whole bunch or her and our thoughts on getting our heads around downsizing and starting the life. Here’s to your freedom and peace! All best, -Dad at bnf.