As a mom to three young kids, I used to steal a few moments in the bathroom, in my closet, or anywhere they wouldn’t find me. I looked forward to the weekly grocery shopping like it was a day at the spa. I’d go every Monday when my husband got home from work, and I’d savor it, sipping on my Diet Coke while sitting in the parking lot flipping through a gossip magazine with my seat warmers on. Then, I’d take the long way home.
Sure I got out here and there, but with three little ones, I had no chunks of time to do what I pleased. Someone always needed something: a ride, their hair braided, help with homework, or a meal cooked for them.
When the kids were little, I planned time away from them
Time away from my kids when they are small was necessary to maintain some semblance of sanity. Without these stolen moments, I never would have made it through the toddler and elementary school years. I used to long for a secretary just to keep their sports schedules straight, and a clone of me would have been gloriously helpful.
Know what else I used to do? It’s a secret I’ve never fully admitted, but I know I’m not alone in this: I used to have daydreams about running away for a bit. I’d think about lying on a raft somewhere as I floated away. I yearned for a full weekend where I got to stay in a hotel and do as I pleased without anyone needing me for a freaking thing.
There were days when I felt my four walls closing in on me. At that point, I didn’t have much of a life of my own, but every time I tried to break away, my heart would hurt from missing them so much. I still did it because I needed it, and it made me a better mom.
I was talking to my best friend’s mom about this one day. She has five kids who are long grown and gone, and she looked at me and said, “Being a mother is the hardest, most rewarding, and thankless job you will ever have. But wait until they’re grown. You will want these years back.”
Now that my kids are teenagers, if they want to spend time with me, I make that a priority
Now that my kids are teenagers, they are rarely home, nor do they ask much of me when they are. Those fantasies of escaping are long gone. If they have a night when they will be home, that’s where I will be. If they ask me to do something with them, I do everything I can to make that happen.
There are people in my life who can’t seem to understand this. They ask me why my kids can’t stay home alone while I meet them for dinner or a weekend away, but that’s so not the point.
These last few years of my kids being home are the most precious of all. I want to soak up every ounce of being with them. My children are busy, and I have more than enough time to myself these days. And what I want to do more than anything else is to be with my kids.
So, even if I have plans, I’ll cancel if it turns out that my kids will be home. Being with them trumps everything else right now. This isn’t something they expect or ask of me. I don’t think they know I’m basing my social life on them.
It feels right to prioritize my teens right now
I do it because it feels right to me. I have enough free time to enjoy my hobbies and friends and care for everything I need. I no longer have to interrupt everything I do to tie someone’s shoes, fix a snack or break up a fight. The years of having my kids live at home are closing in on me, and right now, if I have to make a choice, I choose them.
These days are gold to me, so valuable that I embrace them, knowing that these moments of all my kids living under my roof as young adults will not come again. We can now enjoy the same movies, have long conversations about life, and spend the day relaxing and bonding. Sure, they will always be my kids and welcome to come home, but from my life experience, I know that it will never again be like it is.
And I don’t want to throw away any moments with them. There will be plenty of time in my life to work on other relationships and solo adventures. But right now, being with my kids is more important to me than anything else.
More Great Reading: