Have you ever devoted years (I’m talking more than 20) to a cause, person, or goal, and then wept when success was at hand? We experienced sacrifice, fatigue, and exasperation as we did our best to navigate through years of uncertainty Finally, as we see the culmination of our efforts, we strongly desire to sneak off to our bedroom and cry. Welcome to parenting. Parenting: a job given by God to raise independent humans that will in someway change the world.￼￼ From the day that babe is first placed in our arms, we are working full-time to ensure that someday this tiny one can fend for himself, going about his daily tasks without a care in the world, without the help of his mom. The nerve.
No matter how underqualified we may feel, we are released from the hospital with an arm full of flowers, receiving blankets, and ice packs for our sore bottoms. Cards of congratulations and a few casseroles welcome us home if we are lucky, and we don’t look back – even if we wanted to look back, we couldn’t – time was not our own anymore.￼￼ It was now time to focus on nurturing, teaching, guiding, and encouraging. Oh, and cleaning, feeding, managing, and disciplining. We wiped tears, noses, and bottoms. We calmed tantrums, drove carpools, and watched the calendar pages flip faster than the sleepless nights passed. From the very beginning, our goal was teaching independence…￼Can you soothe yourself to sleep? Drink from this cup? Use the bathroom alone? Go to preschool without me? Write your name? Ride this bike? Make friends and keep them? Each and every new milestone was a significant step forward, closer to the ultimate goal of independence. We were right there for all of it. Encouraging it. Promoting it. And here we are – already. The days are long and the years are short. Our son can tie his own shoes. Heck, he graduated from college and moved 17 hours away from us to excitedly start his first full-time job. It’s all a big basket of bullshit if you ask me.￼
￼ The complexity of the situation is darn right silly. I took on the task, the mission, the calling of parenthood. With great anticipation, humor and a bit of naivety – I joined the other Moms of the world in our daily attempts in keeping the tiny humans alive and thriving. I did my very best so that my children would eventually be able to leave home and succeed. So why was this all such a shock to my system? Why was saying goodbye so difficult? Why did parental success come tied with a bow of grief? Once again, life is teaching me that most occasions require a wild mixture of feelings. The joy of being the parent of a graduating senior is accompanied by the grief that declares the end of an era. The anticipation of dropping our child off at college is met with the concern that neither parent nor child is prepared adequately.
￼ Accepting the notion that my job description is dramatically changing is perhaps the most difficult aspect. I am still needed, just differently. As a 48 year old, I still talk to my own Mom daily. But she doesn’t see me, feed me, or hug me daily any longer (sad face). Our relationship has changed. It has grown. I must change my hat, this is yet another phase of parenting that has left me feeling a bit unprepared. The challenges of caring for a newborn, toddler, school-ager, and teenager were ever-changing and kept me on my toes. Learning to parent an adult child that lives across the country will present a few challenges as well, I presume￼￼￼. The silence in our home is proof of a job well done, a task completed. It’s time to move on to new situations, new solutions to be found, new endeavors to be encouraged. I am up for the task. I am ready to FaceTime, text, and travel to ensure our connections stay strong. I will try to be easy on myself as I learn my new role and draw on my past experiences for confidence and peace. I will move forward with gratitude and energy to make the most of every “first” that is yet to come.￼
I wish there was a word bigger than proud, because I am fully THAT WORD. Blessings and hugs to all parents who are currently changing roles. Please know that you are not alone in your own emotions! Find a friend and talk about it- all of it- it helps ❤️￼
THE BEST IS YET TO COME.