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!