How many times did you hear someone tell you to enjoy the moments when they were little? To not take for granted the sloppy kisses or the incessant calling of your name, no matter how tired you got? All the time. It was almost to the point of it being annoying, right? Sure, I’ll miss THIS. I’ll miss never having a moment to myself, or to know what it was like to go to the bathroom alone, or to be able to lay down for five minutes, uninterrupted.
For years, my oldest thought the name of tampons was “pribacy” because to her that’s what it meant when I was in the bathroom by myself and demanded to be alone. One time I was sitting on the toilet and she came in and handed me a tampon and asked if I needed some “pribacy.”
Another time I recall when the youngest was born, I was home alone with all three and needed to pump. There was just no escaping to “pribacy,” and so there I sat in all my postpartum glory with a screaming two-week-old, 3- and 5-year-old while trying to pump. Any shriek of modesty I had left was gone.
I’m now 42. My oldest left for college in August and I’ve got two more right behind her on the way out the door, and I literally don’t know where all the time went.
I woke up one day and my kids were teenagers and earning independence and didn’t need me nearly as much.
I am now that lady telling others to appreciate it. I am telling them to be gracious to themselves for wanting a quiet moment and to also return the graciousness to those littles for wanting all their moments.
One day soon enough, they’ll have so many things vying for their attention, that you’ll get your time and your freedom and then start realizing how much you miss them. It is the crazy and heartbreaking cycle of motherhood.
It has taken me a while to begin to adjust to this new shift in motherhood. To value this new season of my life as a woman and mother. You see, all along I thought I was raising children, and it turns out I’m not.
I am raising adults. I’ve been raising tiny humans to be good adults, and somehow that has changed my perspective on motherhood.
If I want to be honest about it, there were many times I felt like a really underpaid babysitter, and in all the ways I was choosing to show up as a mom, those things were actually helping those tiny humans to become good adults. I was preparing them, all while feeling grossly underprepared and unaware of the impact I was having.
My new season is proving to be a very hopeful and interesting one. Of my friends, I am one of the first to have a child leave the nest. They’ve often asked what it’s like to parent an 18-year-old who is on their own now. That is tough to answer. I haven’t been able to come up with a solid one yet.
As her mom now, I really do a lot of listening, and through the help of a good counselor, I have learned that my role is to be the sideline referee of sorts. Not based on penalizing her if she goes out of bounds, but just showing her where some good lines are so she may learn to find her own boundaries as well. My boundaries may not end up being the ones she chooses, but I can continue to be an example of health to her in that way.
Where does that leave me as a woman? Turns out, I’m not left anywhere.
Instead, I have been given the beautiful ability to create what I choose. I am not destitute in my sorrow for how motherhood has changed, but instead, I am joyous for what will be, all while reminiscing about days gone by with such sweet memories.
Motherhood is both. I am learning to explore what I find interesting, valuable, and enjoyable, all while still being the mother to three amazing kids who are learning those things for themselves as well. Honestly, I think this is going to be one of my prized seasons as a mom. I’ve got great kids, who have good heads on their shoulders, and I’ve been to enough rodeos at this point to know that they may not always make the best choices, but they’re learning too. Just as I once was, and still am.