MOM SO HARD.
With all my musings about living a healthy lifestyle, one subject I don't often go on about is my kids. And I hope it goes without saying, it's not because I don't like them. I love them to pieces! They are awesome human beings, and I did a really good job raising them, if I do say so myself.
But, raise them I did. My son Jordan is 24 years old; my daughter Isabelle is 19. Currently, they live at home with my husband and me. Which, in my mind, is not always the ideal way this all plays out... but it’s not awful, either. On Cape Cod in particular, it's hard to find affordable, year-round rentals, so it's not uncommon for many adult children to still live in their parent’s homes. But that’s another blog post.
Today’s post is about being a parent to adult children. Which is incredibly nuanced - and very different form being a parent to toddlers, adolescents and everything in between. When your kids are babies, all you do is parent.
You are never NOT figuring out if they need to eat, sleep, be changed, or be entertained. Once they become mobile toddlers you are constantly chasing them, watching them, teaching them how to talk, be safe, eat on their own.
Then they start school, you start learning what you are now like as a parent of a small child who is not in your immediate vicinity 24 hours a day. You learn you are a different person than you once were when you’re alone, because you’re still a parent – and still responsible for small humans. Even if you go to lunch or have a night out with your spouse or friends, you can’t really let go because… well, yeah. Responsibility of small humans!
Eventually, you get through the elementary years, followed by the adolescent and teen years (god help you all!). Your babies become full-fledged, adult human beings. They drive their own cars that they pay for (HOPEFULLY). They go to work at the jobs they got themselves. They buy a lot of their own food and entertain themselves. Maybe they're still in college, and not living at home for months out of the year, but even when they return home for visits, they are just that, visiting. Your world as a parent is once again redefined. You never stop thinking of them. You still worry. But it’s not like when they were young and you literally had to check to be sure they were breathing at night. They are now are independent, adult humans your worlds are more separated and defined.
This is where I am now. I have dinner with my resident kids about once a week. They are busy with their jobs, their friends, and their leisure time. I see them every day, but they are almost like roommates in my home. I get to go out to dinner with friends and not have to think about feeding them dinner first. My husband and I escape for weekends away and leave the dog behind and the kids will take care of him for us. I am still and will always be a mom, but my kids are adults. And that's something we don't talk about a lot.
I am no less of a mom than I was when I was “parenting” 24/7. I am no less of a mom now than when I was driving my kids 8x a day all over Cape Cod. I am no less of a mom even if I no longer have to watch Sesame Street and baby proof my house, or visit only “family friendly” restaurants, or go to all the holiday concerts, sports games and various ceremonies that are often attached to childhood.
I am no less of a mom, and in fact, maybe I’m MORE of a mom now than I was then.
Some of my peers who are moms with children younger than my kids sometimes forget that I AM a mom. They make funny comments about how it’s different for me. Or they assume that I have no idea how hard it is for them carve out free time for themselves, since their kids are still so dependent on them. Yo! I’m STILL a mom! I did all of that! Oh and hey- I was a SINGLE mom while I did lot of it, too!
Ok. Maybe I had some some pent up aggression about that one. I feel better now.
Anyhow, my point is this. Now I can look back with some clarity on all of those stages of my children’s lives and see how much work there really is. I respect all of my fellow moms who are at each stage and know exactly where they are, and where they have to go. I empathize with real understanding just how hard it is to get through each moment and phase without completely losing your shit or yourself along the way.
Momming is HARD, no matter how old your babies are! So maybe us moms need to work a little harder to respect each other where we are. Judge each other a little less, and maybe offer a little more help when we can.
Nobody knows better how hard it is to be a mom than a mom of adult children. So as you #momsohard keep us dinosaur moms in your thoughts and prayers, too. We have our own struggles AND we know yours. It takes a village after all, right?