I’m not sure why no one ever talks about it, but parenting older kids feels lonely sometimes.
It’s the weirdest thing because, really, I’m never actually ALONE in my own house.
But these days their wants and needs seem bigger than anything I can provide. And the little people who once hung all over me. Needing me constantly. Poking chubby little fingers under the door of the bathroom. Calling for me, “Momma! Watch this!” over and over. Wanting only ME . . .
Well, they’re growing up. And away. And I’ve been thrown into this “supporting role.”
Still needed, yes. But in a different way.
Now my main job is driving them around and absorbing their complaints.
Their teen tantrums and angst.
Their hurts and fears.
And I wonder constantly if I’m doing it right. Are they OK?
Years ago, I could solve their problems with a hug or a snack and they’d reward me with wet, slobbery kisses because my role as MOM was the center of their whole world.
Now I mostly feel in the way. Naggy. Lame.
I’m trying my best to grow them up right. Teach them responsibility. Allow for life’s consequences. I say things like, “Did you get your assignments turned in?” and, “Are your chores done?” or, “Hey, you know you can’t have your phone during a Zoom lecture . . . hand it over.”
But these days, hugs are few and far between. Usually given with a limp arm. Or the lean in with no arms at all! And I’m rewarded most often with eyes rolls and low groans and, “Ugh. Mom. Seriously?”
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t lonely sometimes.
Not really ALONE, of course, because there are kids and stray socks and empty cups all over my house.
Plus, I can’t seem to finish a single solitary thought without a barrage of questions. Or distractions. Or kids bickering. Or, “Mom, where’s the charger?” Or the constant complaint there is nothing to eat.
Occasionally I get a big smile from the court as they scan the bleachers for my eyes. And sometimes we have a late-night snack in the kitchen and rehash the game or watch basketball highlights on YouTube. A different kind of, “Mom, watch this!”
These are the moments I savor and store away.
But all the same . . . I feel lonely sometimes.
Maybe you feel it, too.
Parenting older kids can be lonely.
So, maybe . . . we can do it together.