Spoons and Forks Only

I’m struggling a little bit with this phase of my life. For twenty years I’ve been a mom. That’s been my thing. And I’m a pretty good one, too. Not perfect. Not great. But pretty good. I mean, my kids have made it to 17 and 20 with a minimum of mental and/or emotional scarring so that must say something.

It is easily the best and most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done. But now, all of a sudden it seems, my services are no longer as necessary. Sure, I’ll always be their mom. That will never change. And sure, they’ll always need me to some extent. But they have their own lives now. Taylor just started his third year of college yesterday. And while he still technically lives at home, he was only here for a very short time this past summer because he was off being a young adult in another city. And I may be jumping the gun where Katie is concerned, but she gets so busy with school, work, church, singing, friends, etc., that she’s hardly ever home either. And in another year there’s no telling where she’ll be.

I’m glad for them. I’m proud of them. I want this for them. This independence. This making their own way in the big world. This cutting of the apron strings…

Okay. So the apron strings aren’t completely cut yet. But they are being sawed on with a table knife. Slowly but surely, each thread of the string is being severed and I’m helpless to stop it. And I don’t necessarily want to stop it. Except I really, really want to stop it. Just for a little while longer. I’d like to take away the knife and hand it back when I’m ready.

And nobody ever told me that the apron strings keep a mother’s heart afloat. With each thread that snaps I feel my heart sink just the teensiest bit. I suppose, though, that it’s the selfless love of a mother that keeps the heart from plummeting completely. The love that motivates my desire for my children to become the adults that God wants them to be. Even if that means that someday they will not just go to college far from home, but may actually live far from me.

I recently told them both that I demand they always live within three hours of me and have at least two, three would be better, but four would be preferable, children once they are married and settled. They both said okay, but I get the feeling they thought I was joshing. Maybe because I don’t have a great track record as a daughter where those demands are concerned. (FYI – my mother never placed that demand on me.)

A friend of mine had a very premature baby a couple of months ago and he was finally able to come home for the first time about a week or so ago. It was very questionable for a while as to whether or not he would even survive. Thankfully he did survive and is doing quite well now. This is her first child and she made a comment to me that I’ve heard several other women make about a child that they could have lost in infancy. She said (paraphrased greatly), “I think I love him even more than most new moms because I almost lost him.” Not to belittle the horror and then profound relief of her or any other mother’s similar situation, but I disagree. Didn’t we all feel like nobody could have ever loved their child as much as we love ours? A mother’s love is a fierce and unimpenetrable force. There is nothing to be done against it.

So why am I so surprised at how hard all this is on me? Between this and everything going with my dad I feel like there’s always a little bit of sadness just under the surface. I don’t like it. I don’t do sad well.

And here’s the funny thing. I didn’t even start out writing this post! I was going to talk about how I don’t have my kids to play with anymore so now I’m going to play with my friends this afternoon and go kayaking, but this is what came out. Which is why I’ve been so bad about blogging. It’s always a little maudlin so I delete it. I guess I’ll just leave it be – apparently I needed to get it out.

Hopefully I’ll have a much more Jensteresque post after my kayaking adventure with Tina this afternoon!

10 Comments

  1. n on August 24, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Why can’t this be Jensteresque? We love all of you. Even the sad beneath the surface parts. Praying for your strength and joy. And for the time to pass just a little bit slower. xxxooo

  2. Sing4Joy on August 24, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    You write about life. Sometimes it is sad. I still read the whole thing.

  3. Ann on August 24, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Glad to be reading you again Jen!!! As always very true words and I am totally aligned with where you are with your stage in motherhood. Thank you for that beautiful post !

  4. Amy Martin on August 24, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    I love this Jen! You wrote exactly what I am feeling!! It is so hard to cut those strings, and even though sometimes they are never fully cut, in other ways they are…(Does that make sense??) Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this time of your life. I can so relate especially about the sad beneath the surface. While I know we are supposed to look forward to that time in our lives a part of me is petrified about what will I do with myself…. If you ever need to share that feeling of “lost motherhood” I am always around…

  5. Leanne on August 24, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    Thank you for sharing your heart with this post! I appreciate your wisdom as you go before me and have for several years. Thank you.

  6. Tara Watson on August 24, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Jen, I try to keep my blog mostly around health/wellness and then Guatemala snuck in there. However this feeling that you describe, THIS is what I want to write about as it’s exactly what’s on my heart right now. As Ash goes off to her 2nd year, and Josh needs me less and less, I too feel a little sad and empty. Yet it’s an incredibly joyful time, this blessing to be able to see your kids transform right before your eyes. Thanks for keepin’ it real sistah!

  7. Bev on August 24, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    I understand!! I can’t begin to to say how wonderful this summer was. All my children home at the same time. Going on a family vaction with all of them! It isn’t going to happen like that again and one other mother out there in the world saw it…Was that you? At the Grand Canyon, huffing and puffing behind our four children a woman pointed out to her two children and said “That’s us in a few years? One last family trip.” I froze for a moment and she saw and said “But maybe we’ll take trips with the grandkids and in-laws. Infact I demand it” Bittersweet..isn’t it? And I too demand clan vacation too!

  8. jonstolpe on August 26, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Jen, this is good stuff. Moms (and Dads) need to hear this stuff.

  9. Lyn on August 27, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    Oh, my dear sweet lady ….. Your relationship is good enough that it will span the miles, if necessary. I know, it is good if they do settle nearby, but it’s also good if they venture out. Think of the vacation you might have around their new homes! My daughter is in FL, having moved there by her husband’s transfer. Now she is stuck there by court order after the divorce and ensuing child custody stuff. But we are so linked, my daughter and I, that we don’t miss a beat. I’d love to be closer, but we make it good, in spite of the distance. Jes’ sayin’! You’ll be fine either way, I’m very sure. 🙂

  10. Michele McMillan on August 29, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    It does get better with time is about all I can say. By God’s grace you get through these tough times and “move on” to other things, always being mom, but just different; more like friends with your grown kids.

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