I love being a mom.
I have loved all of the phases of motherhood. I haven’t always been a good mom (sometimes I’ve been pretty awful), but I have always loved my kids.
Motherhood- phase 1
I loved my babies. I loved smelling them and feeling their soft skin. I loved nursing them and playing with their chubby little fingers. I loved giving them a bubble bath in the sink. I loved watching them learn to crawl and talk. Most of all, I loved the way they looked up at me with pure love.
Of course, I didn’t sleep much and my body felt as chubby and squishy as my baby’s body. I had to carry around a small suitcase of supplies, and some how I still managed to run out of diapers or extra clothes when I was away from home (blow-outs were frequent, maybe I should have spent more on diapers). I loved having babies in my life. Maybe that is why I had so many!
Motherhood- phase 2
My toddlers only had two speeds, on and asleep. They were like wind up cars that zoomed really fast and then came to an immediate stop. When they were awake, they needed to eat with great frequency, like every two hours or less. My husband constantly joked that I needed to take all of the kids to the doctor to have them checked for tape worms.
At times I felt ‘mother-guilt’. I thought that I was a bad mom if I let my kids watch t.v. or eat treats. I always wanted to be more, do more and teach my kids more than I was able to accomplish. I figured that as long as I was loving my kids and they loved me, then my failures wouldn’t matter in the long run.
Motherhood- phase 3
School and schedules begin and the freedom of baby and toddler-hood vanished. They went off to school, played optimist football, joined the cub scouts. They had so much they wanted to tell me about their day, their life, their hopes and dreams.
Everyday they begged for my time and attention. They looked forward to seeing me, and I them. We relished our times together. I helped them with their homework and taught them how to make pancakes. In the summer we went on family vacations, we swam and we gardened together. They saw everything in the world as an opportunity to have fun.
Motherhood- phase 4
Then they started to become little adults, with real personalities, feelings and opinions. They worried about their future, they worried about their friends, they worried about their clothes. They got involved in school sports, clubs and music. Some of them even started to care about personal hygiene.
They also had dramatic highs and lows. Transitioning from elementary to middle school made life seemed stressful and scary. I could not longer kiss their boo boo’s and make their problems go away. Sometimes I just had to listen and love. Most of the time, they still liked talking to me. I didn’t really know if I was mothering right, but I was trying. (I still hadn’t/haven’t figured out how to keep my kids from fighting, or making messes, or being selfish) Fortunately, they didn’t know that I didn’t know what I was doing. I still had them fooled into thinking that I had all of the answers.
Motherhood- phase 5
And then high school began. What seems like the longest four years to them, is currently flying by for me. I have two in high school, and now I really don’t know what I’m doing, and they know it too.
One of my many parenting missteps began five years ago, when my husband and I decided to put our older kids in on-line high/middle school. We tried it for three years, three long, awful, painful, terrible years. It was not what we had expected, it was not what they expected. We thought we were giving them a better education, more opportunities, more freedom, more family time, but none of that happened. I like to think that my “good parent” moment was the day I admitted defeat and decided to put them back in public school…but I did it a year or two too late to be very proud of myself.
Now that they are in a public high school, I can focus more on being loving and supportive and less on assignment due dates. It is much harder than I expected. They don’t come to me, eager to talk and share their life. When they are sad, angry or frustrated, they don’t always tell me how they feel. They don’t ask for hugs and comfort. Maybe it’s because my three oldest are all boys. Maybe it’s because we changed their whole world last year. Maybe it’s normal.
I love them, and most days I’m pretty sure that they love me back.
Motherhood- phase 6
My newest phase just began. I sent my oldest off to college this month. Fortunately (for me), he’s not too far from home. He is close, and far away at the same time.
I thought that I would be really sad about his departure. I thought that I would be worried and anxious about him leaving our home, but I’m not. I’m sure this makes me sound a little cold hearted. I think my son felt it, he even told me that most of the other parents were crying when they left their kids. Me, I was like, “Your room is all unpacked and you have everything you need. I love you, I gotta get back to the rest of the family. Good luck!”
It felt a little bit like the end of a pregnancy. You spend the majority of the nine months worried about your ability to take care of this person that is about to join your life, but as the ninth month approaches you get more and more uncomfortable. Finally, you are so big and awkward and miserable, that you want that baby to come out no matter what, even if you totally suck as a parent. It is time for you and your baby to move on to the next phase of life.
And so it is with an 18 year old. They want to be an adult, you want them to act like an adult. They only way that this can totally happen is for parent and child to separate. He needs to make his own decisions, even if they aren’t all good decisions and I need to change my parenting. He doesn’t need my rules, my opinions, my corrections, or my criticisms, only love and support. He needs to know that although he is gone, he is not forgotten. He is always welcome at home. His family will always love him.
And that is why I text him everyday.