Parents of Adult Children Collection

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at CarrotRanch.com. She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

July 20, 2023

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

Tectonic Shift by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Thunk!
Baba peeked through her shutters, to see Billy’s hind end bouncing its way back to town. That night, sucking on her pipe, she considered the moon overhead. Why did he throw rocks at her cottage? No hello, no jeers, no partner in crime. Was he lonely? Her rocking chair creaked in assent.
She offered cookies, meat pie, even halloos. Never accepted, never answered, so she only nodded when he came, gathering the rocks in a pile that grew with the child.
Until the day she couldn’t get out of bed, and the young man knocked on her door.

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Adulting Adult Children by Dora X. Plora

“OMG, they don’t ever really grow up.”
“The opposite. Mine still acts like a two-year old, expecting everything to go his way.”
“At least he’s working.”
“Yeah. I don’t see any of the money, but it does get him out of the house.”
“I’ve thought about asking mine to actually move out of the house. Then he’d have to grow up, do things for himself. But where would he go? I’m not sure he could manage on his own.”
“It’d send a message. Sink or swim.”
“But it’s still hard to let go, despite everything. We’ve been married forever.”

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The Teens Mature by Sue Spitulnik

Michael said to Tessa, “Remember Gaylan?”“Of course. Back when, your father explained responsibility and rewards to him, and he became more trustworthy after that. Why?”“He called and wants my input about his career path. I’m not sure how to respond when I still picture a reckless kid.”Tessa chuckled. “It took me a while to look at Lexi as an adult, but when I realized  she was acting and talking like a mother, it was easy to switch to dealing with a peer, not my child.”“So, if I hear maturity, I’ll see maturity?”“I believe so.”

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When the Truth Hurts by Dianne Borowski

Cole was my sister’s kid. He didn’t know it. She was high on coke when the baby was delivered. The father disappeared rather than worry about child support, I was single, had a good job and enjoyed life. The hospital called me to take custody of the baby. I did. Sis was Aunt Shelly to Cole. She preferred to let him believe I was his mother. I kept my mouth shut.

Have you ever tried to live a lie? Day after day, year after year I wanted Cole to know the truth. Shelly overdosed. I never did tell him.

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Like Mother, Like Son by Anne Goodwin

If she could rewrite history, she’d go back and steer him away from danger. She would pay for the privilege with her life. When he was a boy, she could lick his wounds; now he’s an adult, he won’t even show her the scars. But she sees the consequences in broken relationships and lost jobs. If he could mould the future, he’d banish all her burdens. He’d care for her as she cared for him as a child. But his mother is proud, she drapes her frailty in scarves and jewellery and asks him what he wants for tea.

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The Kid by Bill Engleson

I don’t know what love is anymore.
Maybe I knew when I was younger.
But when love walked out the door,
kinda took away the hunger.
Sometimes. Settled into darker days,
getting by, but barely.
Wallowed in my empty ways.
Never faced the world squarely.
Most times. Wondered ‘bout the boy sometimes.
How life was working for him.
Paid support in nickels and dimes-
Life on the margins is slim
Oft times. He sought me out a week ago,
Doing well and looking strong.
We passed the time talking slow.
Forgave me for doing wrong,
all my fathering crimes.

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My Daughters by Sadje

I have three brothers and no sister. So when my daughters became adults they became my sisters and friends. We can share anything with each other. Though there are boundaries, (no one wants to know everything) they are here for me when I need someone to talk to and vice versa. When there are secrets to be shared mom is here. When they want to crib about something, mom is here and it’s the same with me. I can trust them implicitly as they can trust me to honor their trust. Friendship with adult children is a wonderful gift.

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Coming Out by Hugh W. Roberts

“Gran, I’m gay.”

“I’m so glad you’re here. I was worried something was wrong,” came the reply.

We hugged. We’d been through so much together. “There’s nothing wrong with me being gay, right, Gran?”

She shook her head.

“I love you, Gran.”

“I love you too, Bill.”

We hugged again before I went to my room. I was finally ready to start living my life openly and honestly.

And I knew I had my Grandmother’s love and support to help me along the way.

Although I was tired, I was also happy. I knew that I was finally home.

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Homecoming by Rose Nord

“Little brother!” She stood on her toes on the train platform to throw her arms around his neck. He smiled a goofy smile, teeth bleached, barely filling out his suit.

Her window wipers bravely battled the downpour, headlights carving through the night.

“How’s mom?”

“Oh, you know.”

The brother looked sunken, the sister frowned. Was it mom he’d come to visit?

Arriving at the slumbering house, his bedroom awaited him, untouched and cautiously optimistic, even though he drifted further from his hometown every year.

“Don’t forget to brush your teeth,” she told him, as she had many times before.

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Lingering Laments? by JulesPaige

flip the switch
up is down; reverse
hourglass drains

egg in pot boils; soft then hard
Möbius strip continues on

flipping loop
is an endless dream
timeless path?

Memories like unclear images of a life that could have been. If the grandparents could have been the mentors. If the parents had moved to that house in Florida right on the water.

One can only move forward. Grains of sand flow down. Gravity allows us to fall. Not every fall is a failure. Those once doting grands, they will have their own speed of growing up. As elders slow down.

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Passage of Time by Ruchira Khanna

“It’s getting late, sonny boy! The school bus will be here anytime. Let me help you with the socks while you finish your breakfast.” I said as I glanced at the clock.

“Mom, we are running late for the convocation ceremony. Allow me to help you so we can be on the roads soon.” said the same boy, 21 years later, as he helped me with the socks due to my arthritic hips. 

Embracing the inevitability of time is crucial in navigating the waters of life. We must keep rowing our boat to make a difference in this lifetime. 

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Mother and Daughter by Norah Colvin

One
You are my everything, my world, my universe.
Four
I only want to be with you. No one else will ever do.
Eight
You’re the best in the whole world.
Thirteen
You’re mean. Everyone else can.
Fifteen
I hate you.
Eighteen
I’m an adult. You can’t tell me what to do.
Twenty-one
It’s my life. I’ll do what I want.
Twenty-five
How can I get Bubs to stop crying?
Twenty-nine
Will you babysit?
Thirty-three
Can you help with sport?
Thirty-eight
Please talk to her. She won’t listen to me.
Forty
I wasn’t this bad, was I?
Sorry, Mum.

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Churning by D. Avery

“A grown man churning butter!”
Robert looked up at his mother, damp mary-golds clenched in her hands.
“Thomas traded chores with me today.”
“I was so angry when you joined.”
“Ma?”
“You wouldn’t know it to see him now, but Thomas was a sickly baby. After I’d already lost so many children.” She stood, watching Robert at his methodical work. “I was afraid I’d lose my eldest too.”
“I’m sorry to have worried you so.”
“Well, you’re back. And a fine man you are, Robert. But you’ll always be my child.”
“I know, Ma. That’s why I came back.”

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Nursery Lessons by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking has successfully eradicated childhood, the residents appearing as fully-formed if untutored adults. The lack of role models has been filled by a Dad Library (Pa Rentals) of for-hire patriarchs. It is attached to an adult nursery school, teaching these exemplars their life skills: how to sponge off your children; appearing hopeless in the face of new technology; games of how to play the guilt card and ‘mop my drool’. A similar school for matriarchs (If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother) flopped when its members spent too much time listening to what their charges really wanted.

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Lasting Friendship by Eliza Mimski

She’s known him since he was a kid, coming home from school by himself, waiting for his parents to return from work. She invited him into her home, made him peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and poured him glasses of milk, helped him with his math and quizzed him on his spelling words.
Years have past. He’s grown now. She’s eighty and often sick. His parents moved away, and he lives with roommates. He looks after her, calls to check on her and visits her on Sundays. He weeds her yard, taking out her garbage and recycling every week.

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Harry’s Unique Muse and Mentors by JulesPaige

13)
It was becoming a golden hour at the Saddle-Up Saloon. Windows filtered the light flowing through crystals that bounced rainbows off mirrors, that danced wherever they landed. One rainbow landed on Harry’s hand that held the unique quill. The quill had become a salwart muse kicking Harry’s imagination into a higher imaginative gear. “Cue” the Quill, hummed with endless ink as Harry slowly poured out a simple story about the Victorian Era Lady in the photograph that had the pen taped to its back. Mystery, and romance… that brought back only partial memories of where Harry had come from.

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Harry’s Unique Muse and Mentors by JulesPaige

14)
Harry had set up several pages for the quill named “Cue” to communicate – so as not to be intermixed with the story he was penning. Occasionally Quill would gently steer Harry’s hand to the ‘conversation’ page. Attempting to be a mentor. “Take another look at the photo,” Quill suggested. Harry gently put the quill down, and picked up the photo. There were some familiar features in that small happy face. Harry set the photo down and picked up “Cue”… “You might be related,” the quill softly sighed as a rainbow brushed the woman’s face, where her eyes twinkled delightfully.

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Harry’s Unique Muse and Mentors by JulesPaige

15)
Kid and Pal weren’t quite sure where their mentor, creator, writer had drifted off too. But they were content to be the caretakers and support all those who showed up at the Carrot Ranch Saddle Up Saloon. It was a good environment. When their writer got back they’d have to have a heart-to-heart. Just so they knew that they’d never be completely abandoned. The saloon had some new mysteries. Mirrors were spouting poems and advice. Another writer who popped in, outta nowhere and a ‘talking’ quill. Harry had arrived in a tux, and was now comfortable without his cumberbund.

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Harry’s Unique Muse and Mentors by JulesPaige

16)
Carrot Ranch was a magical space. Everyone who entered was either mentoring or bein’ a mentor. What started out as a small seed of an idea helped to develop new fictional lives that matter. Some writer’s adopted other characters, but only briefly. ‘Cas the creator who wrote ’em first, never really abandon those ideals that help keep them sane in the real world. When Harry met Kid and Pal is a good example of that. As long as talking quills exist, imaginations will flourish. And eventually, at some point in time visiting characters will get to git home again…

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Raised Write (Part I)

“Here ya are Kid.”
“Come Hell or highwater.”
“Reckon we’re settin this one out.”
“ ’Parently, Pal. Less ya got kids?”
“One Kid too many. Hey, lookit Curly.”
“Yep, she’s heppin the donkey git adjusted, kinda bein its service hog.”
“Curly ain’t a hoglet anymore, is she? She growed up ta be a fine hog, Kid.”
“If she’s growed up, does that mean we’re gittin older too?”
“Naw, we git ta stay the same age as we started. Benefit a bein a fictional character.”
“Feels like we’ve growed over time.”
“Benefit a bein a fictional character.”
“With good prompts.”
“ ’Parently.”

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Raised Write (Part I)

“So, Kid, how’d ya do it?”
“Do what?”
“Raise sech a fine hog? An not in the goin ta market sense. Curly’s a responsible, reliable hog who steps up aroun the ranch. An the two a ya still git along an injoy each other’s company.”
“Don’t feel like I never did nuthin. Jist did ma best by her, specially when she was little. Then I jist trusted her, let her be who she was, let her try things out fer hersef.”
“Reckon that’s why she’s so confident.”
“Wish I had some a her hutzpa.”
“Kin learn from Curly.”
“ ’Parently.”

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Raised Write (Part I)

“Hey Pal.”
“Hey there Shorty.”
“Where’s Kid?”
“Kid an Curly went a-campin, jist the two of em. Thinkin yer prompt inspired it.”
“I’m glad Kid saw a way ta make it work. Curly definitely counts. What about you, Pal? Got any kinda grown kids?”
“Hmmf. Nope. No way. Never. Member, I always jist been, ya know, fully formed.”
“Formed from what?”
“The ranch itsef I reckon. I’m the growed child a the ranch; all its landscapes an critters; all its maginations an dreamins.”
“You were raised write!”
“Reckon I was. But it takes a village a worldwide ranch hands.”

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Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

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5 Comments

  1. Charli Mills

    Thank you for all the thoughtful responses this week! What an array of stories to reflect the sorrows, joys, challenges, and humor of parenting adult children. Several of you portrayed non-traditional “parenting” roles and expanded to include other family and non-family ties. Aanii, Ranchers!

  2. Sarah Brentyn

    Great collection. Have to say Norah’s piece is perfect in its simplicity. The universal parent/child relationship.

    • Charli Mills

      Yes! Norah created such a succinct way to show the evolution of a parent/child relationship over time.

  3. Jules

    One thing that is consistant about parental/adult and child/young folk relationships is that like any you’ve got to work at them for success. And learn from both positive and negative examples.

    Thanks to all the writers this week 😀

  4. Anne Goodwin

    Too little time to comment on all the great contributions but
    Tectonic Shift by Liz Husebye Hartmann – beautifully poignant
    Adulting Adult Children by Dora X. Plora – thanks for the laugh
    Lingering Laments? by JulesPaige – love the imagery
    Mother and Daughter by Norah Colvin – really nails it
    Congratulations and thanks to everyone.

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