Pre-Order So God Made a Mother

“Mom, you’ve got to fill out the FAFSA financial aid form this weekend!”

“Mom, if I agree to go to college close to home, can I get a dog?”

“Mom, I need your credit card right now so I can send my ACT scores to four more colleges.”

“Mom, you should have pushed me to apply to more schools. What if I don’t get into any that I want?”

These are all real conversations or texts I’ve gotten from my twins this past year. After the drama and tear-filled agony of junior year (when I swear they each came home with four hours of homework per night, and an average of three tests per week), I thought senior year was going to be a breeze. They’d just need to keep up their grades for the first half of the year, apply to a few schools, and then we could all kick back, wait for the acceptance letters to start pouring in, and I could daydream about the sweet freedom I’d experience next fall. To walk into their bathroom without tripping over a wayward hairbrush or open a pint of cookie dough ice cream that hadn’t been liberated of all the cookie dough by a foraging teen.

Instead, nearly every day arrives with a recitation of all the schools their friends and acquaintances have gotten into (“If only you’d pushed me to do a sport, I could have gotten in early decision to a good school, too!”), and their separate but distinct primal fears: “What if they hate my essay—I’m not that interesting!” or “What if I hate my school and don’t make any friends?”

I look at my children now, nearly adults making adult decisions about their futures and it’s hard some days not to wish for simpler times. For the days when homework assignments consisted of creating a prehistoric desert diorama or writing an essay about why they love their cat. Back then, too, I was simply their everything. They looked up to me, adored me and hung on my every word.

That doesn’t mean they thought I was all-knowing. I remember one of my daughters coming home one day and telling me about Columbus’ voyage with the Nina, the Pinta and the . . . “Santa Maria,” I finished. “How did you KNOW that?” she asked, incredulous.

I also miss the way their eyes lit up when I walked through the door after school to pick them up, or arrived home from work. Once I came home late from work, and one of my daughters bounded over to greet me and then sat beside me on the couch. She looked up at me quizzically, in the way she did when she was having deep, eight-year-old thoughts, and said, “Why is it that just sitting next to you makes me so happy inside?”

Now, I’m more likely to get a text asking me to take them for a driving lesson, or pick up a graphing calculator, or I’m greeted at home with a closed and locked bedroom door and a shout of, “I’m busy.” True, one or the other sometimes like me to keep them company  when doing schoolwork or art (as long as I stay silent), but there are many days where I’m shut out, shut off, and seemingly not an important part of their everyday worlds.

We all have different schedules and one day, it hit me that we almost never sat down together to even eat a meal. About a year ago, I decided to change that. I told them that every Sunday from then on, all four of us were going to get together for a home-cooked meal at our dining room table. No cell phones, no laptops. Surprisingly, no one put up a fight (I was waiting for one). Although we were all caught up in our own worlds, deep down we missed each other’s company, and the ease of just being together as a family.

Once we got into the Sunday dinner groove, a funny thing happened. My children, who travel in different social circles and for months barely spoke a word to each other in school or at home, started having animated conversations at the table. Even when it was only to gang up on me or their father, I was secretly thrilled.

These days, we talk about everything and nothing during those meals. We’ve endlessly discussed the pros and cons of colleges, their current workload in school, how much we love our nine-year-old dog who is sick and will probably not be with us much longer. One night, the girls gleefully showed us an episode of their favorite show, Rick and Morty, before we played a board game based on it. They eat food I’ve made with love (and sometimes the help of Blue Apron), we laugh a lot, and for at least 20-30 minutes each week, we hang together as a unit, as a team, as a family.

In less than a year, all this will change. J will get into one of the schools she applied to, and will undoubtedly be making friends and settling into a dorm in a new city. And L will be doggy training  a puppy of her own and either commuting to NYC or driving herself to school on Long Island.

I have mixed feelings about change. I yearned for the day they would finally be potty trained. Once they were, I was instantly nostalgic and missed their diaper butts. Then I couldn’t wait until they would use alarms and get themselves off to school on their own. Now that they do, I mourn those hectic mornings making them breakfast and sharing a few moments before we start our days.

I know my greatest job as a parent is to help my children learn how to live successfully on their own, and college is the first big step. And I’m so proud of the young adults they are fast becoming, even if they’re still a few (?) years away from appreciating all the love and work I’ve put into getting them to this point.

I’ll be sad next fall when our family dynamic shifts. But at least I know I can count on two things: there’ll be a pint of ice cream waiting for me in the freezer, pristine and untouched, and we’ll all be together again during the holidays.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Tracey Segarra

Tracey is an award-winning storyteller, former UPI reporter and the mother of 17-year-old twin daughters. She is also the host of her own live storytelling show, "Now You're Talking," where ordinary people share extraordinary true stories from their lives.

Dear Busy Sports Mom: It’s Worth It

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Mom watching soccer game, photo from behind

My daughter stands on the front porch every morning and waves goodbye to me as I pull out of the driveway to go to work.  She is 11, and recently eye-rolling, long sighs, and tears have become more commonplace in our daily interactions. But, there is also this: “Bye! Have a good day!” she calls to me in the quiet of early morning, neighbors not yet awake in their still dark houses. “You are AMAZING! You got this!” she continues in her little adult voice, sounding more like a soccer mom than a fifth grader.   Her hair is still a...

Keep Reading

Goodbye to the Baby Hangers

In: Kids, Motherhood
Shirt hanging from small hanger, color photo

You bought them when you first found out you were pregnant. It may have been one of the first items, actually, to hold all of the precious new clothes. The smallest ones in your household. Do you remember that first newborn onesie you bought? It was one of your favorites. You couldn’t fathom you would soon hold something so small that would fit into that onesie. You washed all of the new clothing in preparation and hung them up in your baby’s closet. You know the item. A miniature version of the ones in your closet. Baby hangers. “Do we...

Keep Reading

Take the Trip, You Won’t Regret It

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood

Two years ago, in the middle of a snowy, windy, Colorado March, my husband and I made the spontaneous decision to road trip to Arizona with our three very young kids.  Even though I was excited, the nerves were so very real. Over the next couple of weeks, I literally lost sleep worrying about the logistics of our trip. My late-night mindless scrolling was replaced by searches like “traveling with toddlers” and “keeping kids entertained on road trips”. We already had our hands full chasing kids at home in a familiar setting. Were we crazy to think we could just...

Keep Reading

They’ll Remember the Love Most of All

In: Kids, Motherhood
Woman with kids from above, pregnant mother with kids hands on belly

You lie in bed at the end of a long day, the events of the day flashing back through your mind. You do this a lot—recap your day as a mama. How did you do? Did you maintain your patience? Did you play enough? Did you limit screen time? Did you yell less today than you did yesterday? You saw a really neat toddler activity in the group you’re a part of on Facebook . . . you should have done that with the kids. They would have loved it. There wasn’t enough time though, and you didn’t have all...

Keep Reading

He’s Slowly Walking Away with Footprints As Big As Mine

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Teen boy walking along beach shore

The true measure of a mother’s love is her willingness to wake up before the sun on vacation. On a recent trip to the shore, my youngest son begged to walk the beach at dawn to look for shells. So, I set my alarm, tumbled out of a warm, king-sized bed with extra squishy pillows, glared at my dead-to-the-world husband, and gently woke my 11-year-old. Without so much as a drop of coffee, we headed out into the morning, the sun still below the ocean horizon. With each step, I shed my zombie-like state and took in the quiet, salt-kissed...

Keep Reading

Dear Son, Raising You Right Is Worth It

In: Kids, Motherhood
little boy walking in sunlit field

You were the baby who slept nights. You were the infant who quietly stacked blocks one on top of the other. You were the toddler who watched other kids go down the slide at the park 20 times before attempting it yourself. You were the preschooler who hunkered down quietly and patiently when meeting your grandmother’s chickens. So I assumed you would be a gentle boy. And you are.   And yet, now that you’re eight, I’m beginning to understand the meaning of the phrase, “Boys will be boys.” I had my first inkling that day when you were five...

Keep Reading

Are You Watching?

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
Little girl playing goalie at soccer practice, color photo

I brought a book to my 7-year-old daughter’s soccer practice. To be honest, I was looking forward to one hour of time when I didn’t have to do anything but sit. No one would be asking me questions, and no one would need anything from me. I wasn’t in charge. So, I set up my lawn chair, got cozy, and opened the book. But then I happened to glance up as it was her turn to run a drill. The coach was passing each kid the ball for them to kick into the goal. She stepped forward, kicked, and made...

Keep Reading

Here’s to the Apraxia Warriors

In: Kids
Smiling little boy, color photo

This one is for my son. My second born. My kind and gentle child. My apraxia warrior. From birth, he’s been my snuggler. The one whose favorite place in the whole world was anywhere near me. The happy baby, joyful toddler, and forever smiling child. The one who’d hide behind me when strangers approached. The one who doesn’t take risks and doesn’t want to try something new easily. The one who won’t make eye contact easily. Perceived by others as shy. But here’s the thing . . . he’s not shy, he’s a warrior!  What you and I take for granted...

Keep Reading

Sick Season Is Exhausting

In: Kids, Motherhood
Sick boy on couch taking a nap

I cried on the way to my daughters doctor’s appointment this morning. She is not seriously ill; I have friends who have been battling serious illness alongside their kids and I cannot imagine the toll that takes on a parent. Their experiences are far more life changing than the one I am about to share. But I cried this morning because this winter has been brutal on our little family and I am tired. I am tired of seeing my sweet kids sick and knowing there is not much I can do to ease their pain. I am tired of...

Keep Reading

Please See My Child for More than His ADHD

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy climbing playground equipment

When you see us in the store, you see a wild little boy who’s usually trying to run away from me or touching everything he can. If you see us at church, you see and hear a child who can’t sit quietly in the pews even though other kids his age are perfectly capable. If you see us at the park, you see a child who may get in the faces of other kids speaking a version of English that is hard to understand, and you may see him throw some sand or grab another child’s toy. Chances are, if...

Keep Reading