Thursday, July 12, 2012

Further along the parenting journey

I thought that by now I would be much further along with my "after the kids leave" list.  I started my own private Pinterest about twenty years ago when I realized that this or that hobby would take too much time or too many resources away from my kids. I have lists of books I have been meaning to read for a decade or more. Lists of places I want to visit someday, a box full of recipes to try, pictures of quilts I would love to make, and a Netflix queue I didn't even start until shortly before my nest became empty.

Like nearly everything else I anticipated about parenting, the transition to the empty nest has been much more complicated than expected. I figured the girls would go to college, get jobs, get married and eventually there would be  grandchildren . I guess I imagined that they would call for advice from time to time, keep me up to speed on trends, and that we would gradually evolve into friends. That's not exactly how it has gone.

I really miss being their primary debrief-er. Sometimes I find out about things weeks or even months after they happen. This implies there are things I never find out about at all. They aren't being secretive - there's just so much life going on that it can't all fit into phone calls and e-mails. And, there are no buffers either. When something goes wrong, there isn't the day-to-day interaction to rub off the sharp edges. I have to find my way out of these bruised places by myself. I understand all too well now why, as a young woman, I always felt that I left my mom wanting more. She did want more. I do too.

The hardest part has been the intensity of the feelings that accompany each of their milestones. The joy, pride, excitement, and amazement overwhelm my attempts at detaching. I realize that I still want my eyes to be the ones they search for in the crowd, my arms to be the first to go around them, my ears the receptacle of all the backstage details of whatever event is underway. Now they have husbands and in-laws and friends I don't know. I have not been displaced; I am still their mom, and will always be, but my role has changed, probably not for the last time.

Eventually my heart will catch up to my brain but it's not there yet. In the meantime I listen for what God wants me to do next, and keep one ear tuned to my "baby monitor" in case I should be called upon for something that only a mother can do.


Laura Sykes said...

You gotta take it easy on me Julie! I'm too emotional! I can sort of see the computer screen through the tears in my eyes... What a sweet entry. Very touching. sniff, sniff...

Midlife Jobhunter said...

"I realize that I still want my eyes to be the ones they search for in the crowd,"

Now that is a good line. Very touching.