This spring I’ve looked out the window on many occasions only to see the sun shining. I’ve really wanted to get out and enjoy the weather but things like being an adult and working come before soaking up Vitamin D or playing in my garden.
I look at the clock and push on determined to accomplish whatever I can, knowing that I’ll be leaving in a few hours to get my kids from school and they will probably beg me to stop for ice cream or french fries. Then, I’ll sit in the grass at my daughter’s lacrosse game and talk to other mothers who are also doing everything they can to keep their heads above water. And we will all leave feeling a little bit more validated and refreshed.
I’m very caught up in my teens’ lives right now. Yes, I’m busy. Yes, I’m tired. Yes, I look forward to down time because there isn’t much of it these days. Yes, there are many days when I long to have less to do. But damn, do I love these days. Even the hard ones when I feel like my parenting skills have left the building and being a decent mother to three teens is virtually impossible.
I barely remember my life before they came crashing into my world and honestly, I’m okay with that. For many reasons I’m dreading the day my youngest goes out on his own.
My kids motivate me. They get me out and about. They’ve introduced me to people I wouldn’t have met if I hadn’t brought them into the world. They make me feel nostalgic when I see them get ready for a dance or go out to the movies with their friends on a Friday night. They hold me to a higher standard because I know they are watching. They aren’t afraid to call me out on my bullshit because I’ve always called them out on theirs.
And when they leave, I know I am going to feel a void on top of a void. I am not only going to miss my children and the fact that they were the number one priority in my daily life, I am going to miss who I was when being a parent was my biggest role.
Sure, I’ll continue to see my babies when I look a them—I’ll always feel like a mother. I’ll worry and think about them. But when they leave, I’ll be more of an extra in their life instead of a having such a strong supporting role. That is going to feel so foreign to me, and honestly, I can already anticipate how hard it’s going to be for me to arrive at a new place in my life and rediscover me.
When the kids leave, the hosting of sleepovers, the noise, the early morning tousled hair, the gathering of Sunday dinners, taking them out for fast food, and carting them around on the weekends, will go with them. What will I do with that space? Who will I be? Sure, I’ll figure it out but I’m positive I’ll long for my old life; the old me.
For almost two decades, our kids keep us running so fast we wonder when we are going to be able to stop for gas.
Then it all stops and while some parents want to throw a party to celebrate their empty nest, life-change is hard. It forces us to think differently, even if we’re ready for the change and know that ultimately we’ll thrive.
Our brains crave normalcy and for so long we’ve identified as our children’s parents whether we’ve worked outside the home or not. We get really good at juggling all the balls and suddenly most of them drop to the floor. Being a parent always has been, and always will be, the greatest honor of my life.
And when my kids are gone, I will miss them, I will miss the years of being knee-deep in parenting, and most of all, I’ll really miss who I was while I was their full-time, hands-on mom.
I think that’s going to be the hardest part.
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