My Kids Used to Need Me Constantly
Being a mom has been a great joy and also a tremendous heartache.
Reminiscing about the days when my kids were little, they needed me constantly. I was exhausted and resented my husband for having such a demanding job that put the heavy lifting on me. I know this is all part of the ups and downs of parenting. Looking back on it, I realize I may have been depressed and struggling with self-doubt.
I struggled even more when I decided to stay home with the kids once my husband’s job moved us out of state. We left behind our family full of babysitters. So I joined the PTA and tried to keep myself engaged with our new community, but I just wasn’t fulfilled by that. I am grateful for those years but also ecstatic that I went back to work full time.
They Don’t Need Me As Much Anymore
Now, my oldest son is almost 19 years old and just started his second year of college. He pays his rent and rarely needs anything from us (well, except that tuition check). He’ll call me from time to time for help with a banking issue or for my recipe for scalloped potatoes. But he’s independent and thriving, and I feel more like his older sister than his mom most days.
My youngest son is 13 years old. At this stage, he finds me embarrassing and dislikes being seen with me. I know he’s going through all these tough changes. And navigating 8th grade is traumatizing enough without having a helicopter mom. It’s heartbreaking to be the last one on his list of people he wants to talk to, but I’m on the list somewhere.
I’m Still a Mom and I’m Happier Than I’ve Ever Been
I know that I’m still a mom and my kids still need me, but I feel the exact opposite most days. I’m on the bench, waiting to pinch hit on occasion. The weirdest part, though, is that I’m happier than I’ve ever been.
There’s a certain level of freedom I have now that I didn’t have when my kids were younger. I no longer experience the guilt I would when I would take time for myself and away from them. I enjoy the current freedom to focus on my career and my interests outside of my mom duties. My own personal growth, away from my children, may be the reason they are so independent themselves, who knows?
I may be on the bench and feel less than motherly at times, but I’m still a mom, no matter how much I don’t feel like one sometimes. And I want to watch my sons figure things out for themselves, even if it means having awkward conversations and watching them fumble through difficult situations. I hope I can continue to let go, and I’m proud my kids are independent.
Originally published September 2021.
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