Is there a magic cutoff period when offspring become accountable
for their own actions? Is there a wonderful moment when parents
can become detached spectators in the lives of their children
and shrug, "It's their life," and feel nothing?

When I was in my twenties, I stood in a hospital corridor 
waiting for doctors to put a few stitches in my daughter's head. 
I asked, "When do you stop worrying?" The nurse said, "When 
they get out of the accident stage." My Dad just smiled faintly 
and said nothing.
When I was in my thirties, I sat on a little chair in a classroom 
and heard how one of my children talked incessantly, disrupted 
the class, and was headed for a career making license plates. As if 
to read my mind, a teacher said, "Don't worry, they all go through 
this stage and then you can sit back, relax and enjoy them." 
My dad just smiled faintly and said nothing.
When I was in my forties, I spent a lifetime waiting for the phone to
ring, the cars to come home, the front door to open. 
A friend said, "They're trying to find themselves. Don't worry.
In a few years, you can stop worrying. They'll be adults." 
My dad just smiled faintly and said nothing.

By the time I was 50, I was sick & tired of being vulnerable. 
I was still worrying over my children, but there was a new wrinkle.
There was nothing I could do about it. My Dad just smiled faintly and
said nothing. I continued to anguish over their failures, be
tormented and absorbed by their frustrations and disappointments.
My friends said that when my kids got married I could stop 
worrying and lead my own life. I wanted to believe that,
but I was haunted by my dad's warm smile and his 
occasional, "You look pale. Are you all right? Call me the minute you
get home. Are you depressed about something?"

Can it be that parents are sentenced to a lifetime of worry?
Is concern for one another handed down like a torch to blaze 
the trail of human frailties and the fears of the unknown? Is concern a
curse or is it a virtue that elevates us to the highest
form of life?

One of my children became quite irritable recently, saying to me, "Where
were you? I've been calling for 3 days, and no one answered. I was
worried."
I smiled a warm smile. The torch has been passe