We give up so much to raise our babies through childhood. We give up sleep, uninterrupted meals, time spent with our spouse, money, and let’s be real, a LOT of our sanity!
Alternatively, we do so much for them. We play CandyLand until our brains turn to mush, we have innumerable tea parties with stuffed animals, and we can sing every Veggie Tales song. In fact, at times it feels like we go days without having a single adult conversation.
After years of this, finally our children grow into something at least resembling an adult. They go potty by themselves, feed themselves, and even dress themselves. We find ourselves looking forward to them coming home from school. We like to hear about their lives and we actually look for reasons to spend time with them. We have put in the work to raise them and now it’s time for the payoff.
So, what happens next? THEY DITCH US! Suddenly, they are the ones who need time away from us. They become the ones with the glassy-eyed stares while we find ourselves turning into two year olds, hopping around their legs in a bid for attention.
How unfair is this?!
I never wanted to be a ball and chain on my kids, so I never tried to tagalong on their adventures, but hey, could you throw dear old mom a bone? It became a family joke that every time my kids walked out the door I would yell, “Take pictures!” I figured that way at least I could enjoy their lives vicariously. But, of course they were always too busy having fun to send me any pictures.
So, next I tried the whole mother guilt thing and I would bring up my painful labor stories to shame them into sending me pictures. The girls would roll their eyes but at least I would usually get one picture out of the deal. But, when I tried it with my youngest son, he looked at me with a serious face and said, “I had nothing to do with your decision to have children.” That funny left-brained child ruins all my fun. So, that ended that.
It took a lot of grace on my part to let them move on with their lives and leave me behind. And, I wasn’t always successful, but I could take pride in the fact that I liked the adults they were becoming. That really was a comfort while I stayed home, abandoned and alone (how’s that for mom-guilt?!).
For those of you going through this right now, I can make this promise to you: THEY WILL NEED YOU AGAIN! I promise they will. And, by letting them have their freedom (from you) now, they will come back all that much sooner. When romances end, they will need you. When they are facing huge life decisions, they’ll need you. When they want to know how to boil an egg, you are who they’ll call (I did that to my own mom once).
In the meantime, this is our time to do all the things we dreamed of doing (but didn’t have the time or energy to do) while we were raising the little darlings: learn photography, write a novel, volunteer, have date nights. In other words, ease into the next phase of life. We spend so many years being “Mom” that we forget that it is not the only role we will play in this life.
And, who knows? Maybe when the kids finally do call, you’ll be so busy you won’t even be home to answer the phone!