How Old Are Children When You Stop Wondering How They’re Doing?

In case anyone is wondering how old your children have to get to be before you stop wondering how they’re doing when they’re not with you. So far—for me, anyway—it’s not 268 months.

And based on my own mom’s endearingly hyper-punctuated, over-capitalized texts —“Daughter, how ARE you??!! WHAT’S GOING ON TODAY??!!”—it’s also not 600 months.

Mom brain is a thing, and it often manifests itself as staring off into space or standing in the pantry trying to remember what we went in there for or asking, “What was I saying?” This mental fog is usually attributed to decades of accumulated sleep deprivation, and while it is true that moms do not so much sleep as we hover in a semi-conscious state, waiting for someone to need something, the main reason our mom minds don’t seem to be all with us much of the time is because they aren’t.

They’re with and on our children.

Part of a moms heart is always where her kids are. (Twenty20 @DashaPetrenko)

Part of a mom’s heart is with her kids

Part of a mom’s heart is always wherever her kids are, and her heart takes her mind with it. So when our children are not in our relatively immediate vicinity, we devote a big chunk of mental real estate to wondering what they’re doing and how they’re doing, whether where they’re doing it is in school or on a military base or at an office or under their own roof.

How did that that test/speech/tryout/audition/presentation go? Did they get the part? Did they make the team?
Did they talk to their professor? Did they talk to their boss?
Did they schedule a dentist’s appointment?
Are they up yet?
Are they still up?
Are they taking their vitamins?
Did they ever find that file/phone charger/warranty information/old college term paper they were looking for?
Did they get their oil changed?
Did the people in their group project pull their weight?
Did their landlord fix that leaky faucet?
When can they come home again?
What are they doing today?
Do they like their job?
Does their boss appreciate them?
Did they get that promotion?
Are they stressed?
Did that runny nose turn into anything worse?
Are they eating any vegetables?
Are they sleeping?
Do they have friends? Have they met anyone special?
Are they getting along okay with their boyfriend/girlfriend/co-workers/roommates? Do they need anything?
Did they get my text?
Are they safe?
Are they mentally/physically/emotionally healthy?

ARE THEY HAPPY?

Sometimes we come across something that reminds us of our kids

Our mom minds don’t need any prompting to drift to our children, but sometimes they get a little nudge in that direction anyway. We come upon a baby picture and think back to when our now-big kids were that age and size. We hang our purse on “their” chair at the kitchen table and wonder how long it’s been since they last sat there for an average Tuesday-night dinner.

We pass their bedroom door and remember the weekends when they slept in so late that “good morning” turned into “good afternoon.” We shop for groceries and mourn all the things we don’t have to buy because they’re not home to eat them. We watch a shared favorite movie and recall all the parts we laughed at together.

We chide ourselves for thinking about our older kids so much while they’re off living their own lives—as they should be and want to be. But we need to cut ourselves some slack: after all, our children are on our minds from before they’re born…sometimes before they’re even conceived. Where does it say there’s an off switch for this? We think about them because we love them and care about them and want the best for them, and the last time I checked, none of this comes with an age limit, like it’s the children’s menu at a restaurant.

I think more about my kids now that they aren’t with me

Personally, I think about my children even more now than I did when they were small, because when they were younger and were on my lap or in my house or in my car so much of the time, I could SEE how they were or hear it in their crying or the tone of their voices. Now, I read and listen between the lines, having become well-acquainted with the vast difference between “ok” and “okay!” as an answer to my inquiry, “How are you, honey?”

I get online, and Facebook asks me, “What’s on your mind?” And I always think the same thing: it’s not what but whom. It’s the same people who are always on my heart.

More to Read:

Being a Mom of Older Kids in an “On-Call” Position

About Elizabeth Spencer

Elizabeth Spencer is mom to two daughters (one teen and one young adult) who regularly dispense love, affection, and brutally honest fashion advice. She’s been married for 25 years to an exceedingly patient guy she picked up in church. She writes about faith, food, and family (with some occasional funny thrown in) at Guilty Chocoholic Mama and avoids working on her 100-year-old farmhouse by spending time on Facebookand Twitter

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