When we moved 2 1/2 years ago, it was hard for Rachel to connect with friends, being shy didn't help. We noticed that the teens here didn't really have a hang out place. That became one of our goals, to provide a place the kids could hang out, have fun and be safe. It was a slow process especially while Mike was still alive. He often didn't like to be around groups of people. After he passed away, it became extremely important to us not only to provide a gathering place but also to make sure Rachel would move forward and not seclude herself or crawl into a hole, and me too, I guess. That is why we started having late start breakfast here whenever possible and giving rides to kids whenever needed.
There were many nights when we had a few extra Holloway, Cain, Turner, Gilliam or Kings here later then 1 am! After midnight I would start asking, "Your parents okay with you being here?" The typical answer would be, "ya, I checked in." I had to trust they did and hope some parent wouldn't get mad at me. We had some amazing late night talks. Some say the Holy Ghost goes to bed at midnight and kids can only get in trouble after that...I say he is always present when the setting is worthy of it.
If it wasn't for the families here (and in our old hometown) loaning us their children from time to time, it would get very lonely and quiet here. Our routine night would be a movie then bed. We have seen just about everything there is worth seeing. Having extra kids over helps to break up the monotony even if we do just watch another movie. I don't mind feeding them and I don't mind driving them home even when it is all the way across town and late at night. But in the desire to fill our homes loneliness I guess I have lost touch with what other families desires might be.
I sometimes wonder if people realize how truly lonely life can be for me. For some reason I connect better with the youth and have more friends under 20 then above, but even they get tired of a mom hanging around with them. Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of wonderful adult people I know, but "hanging out" is a bit hard when they have obligations I don't have. Being a single adult in a family oriented church is a lot harder and lonelier then I thought it would be.
When my older two kids were teenagers, they homeschooled. We didn't really have set bed times and any given night the Klos, Bunt, Heath, Terry and Anderson clan would be over having fun. Now that I am raising my youngest I have even mellowed more, so you see I don't get worried about the time she comes home as much as I do just knowing where she is and who she is with.
So in my desire to fill our families needs, I have forgotten to take into consideration the needs of other families. What a dilemma I have created. Some may think my youngest is spoiled but I don't think so. I think I am a lot more patient, understanding and mellow. Years of learning to "choose my battles wisely" and knowing when to step back and let go have helped. Most of Rachel's friends are the oldest child in the family and they have greater responsibility to set examples for younger siblings. So I do get it. It is not remembering to honor other families rules as much as it is remembering to watch the clock and ask more questions about curfews. I trust my own kids so much, that I think I trust other youth to know their rules and boundaries hoping they will self enforce them. Isn't it great that life, every day, gives us knew challenges to learn from and better ourselves?