It’s 3 a.m. and I’m exhausted but I just can’t sleep.

I hung up with my college son about 15 minutes ago and my mind is replaying our conversation and racing with thoughts. My heart is filled with love and the urge to just make everything OK. He was at the point of feeling desperate and the kind of worried that feels magnified in the wee hours of the night. Before we hung up, I walked him through some relaxation breathing and a guided meditation—a walk along the beach taking him deeper into tranquility.

He is facing a persistent bout of insomnia, and although he is many miles away from me, I remain his touchpoint. The one he turns to for the reassurance and comfort that only a mother can give. If he were home, I would be snuggling with him on the couch as he sipped a mug of hot chamomile tea. But for now, this is how I can offer support.

Some might balk at this and assume that our big kids outgrow us.

Here’s the thing, moms: Our kids never outgrow us.

How they need us definitely changes, but that they need us does not. As our kids enter the teen years and beyond, they need less of the hands-on mothering of the earlier years and lots more emotional support. Listening, understanding, loving . . . and sometimes guidance. 

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The tapestry of love and connection we weave with our children as we raise them is never unraveled. As we journey through life with them, new designs take shape. Old designs might fade a bit over the years, but they always remain. Part of our beautiful evolving tapestry.

Both of my kids live on college campuses for much of the year. Although we aren’t physically together all of the time anymore, we remain strongly connected. I try hard to give them both space to live their lives in this exciting season they’re in. Still, we text multiple times a day, mostly at their initiation. My son and I talk on the phone to say goodnight every night. My daughter and I talk on the phone almost daily, and we always Snapchat goodnight (we have a streak!). In spite of this connection, perhaps because of it, they are both thriving.

We are discovering that having space and spreading one’s wings doesn’t mean severing connection.

In fact, in many ways, my kids and I are more connected now than we’ve ever been. Some of this is in the little stuff of life: Good mornings by text or Snapchat. “How do I make my coffee turn out like ours at home?” “Can we talk while I walk to the train?” FaceTiming just to see each others’ smiles.

But some of our deep bond is foundational. The kind that’s built and nurtured over time. With lots of love and attention. When we show up for our children through each stage and season, we make deposits in the account of our relationship. Precious investments. Snuggling a scared toddler through the night—deposit. Playing Thomas the Train with your preschooler—deposit. Painting and playing with Play-Doh and picnics at the beach—deposit. Listening intently to your teen pour out their heart—deposit. And on and on.

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So while I shouldn’t be too surprised that I have deep connections with my kids, I am extremely grateful for this blessing. I’d always hoped and prayed that my kids and I would maintain close, loving, connected, and rich relationships. I try to never take this for granted. I still invest in these relationships each and every day.

And marvel at our ever-evolving and growing tapestry.

Sydnei Kaplan

Sydnei Kaplan is Mom to two of her greatest blessings—both in college—and wife to David. She left a marketing career when she became a mom and never looked back. Along the way she discovered her soul’s true calling and found joy not just in raising her own children, but in supporting friends along their journeys. Currently, she is a part-time preschool assistant and has rediscovered her passion for writing at Mom in the Moment, her blog. Find her work on Collegiate Parent, Living the Second Act, and Grown and Flown.