I have no idea where the time has gone but this is a milestone worthy of reflection. Thankfully, after 25 years in my role as mom, I’ve learned a couple of things (mostly by trial-and error) that is making my journey with my-now-adult children so very enjoyable.
My kids are not mine to own. In my role as a parent, I can listen to my kids, encourage and sometimes advise them (if asked), but I do not own them. Their life and the choices they make are their own. Evidently, they choose things that I didn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t and shouldn’t. But that doesn’t mean their choice is wrong.
For example, I never really imagined that my kids would choose to live hours and hours away from me……by airplane. I always thought we’d be close, have Sunday dinners together and my grand-kids would come to ‘Gamma and Gumpa’s’ house for a sleep over every Friday night! These days, reality is checking my flawed imagination and the only thing I can do is accept the truth that my kids are not mine to own.
Seeing life from my kids perspective. A sobering moment, a few short weeks after I became a first time mom, altered the way I view things forever.
My eldest daughter was a colicky baby. She cried 14 hours a day for the first 6 weeks of life which made me cry just as much! What a pair! I remember one day being so frustrated and exhausted. I had fed her, bathed her, changed her diaper, rocked her, held her and nothing would stop the crying. Looking straight into her face, I scolded her ‘I’m so mad at you i could just pinch you!’ I’ll never forget the hurt in her eyes. At that moment I realized my perspective was only from my fatigue and my frustration. But what about her? Only weeks earlier she was in a place of warmth and safety, where food was plentiful and comfort was at a premium; to a place of noise, cold and uncertainty. I suddenly realized how insecure she must feel. Seeing life from her vulnerable perspective, gave me new compassion and patience which has helped me in moments of parenting-frustration ever since.
When my daughters attempted to balance new independence and boundaries during the toddler years, I asked myself, what’s going on inside that is causing them to act out? What comfort do they need from me?
As teenagers, when peer-expectations warred against their understanding of value and worth…..I questioned my daughters’ fears and considered how i could boost their confidence as their primary advocate and cheerleader?
And now as they wade through the pressures of adult decision-making in a culture of ‘me and mine’……I wonder what thoughts of inadequacy they are fighting? How can I assure them of their potential, while acknowledging their need to own the process?
Loving what my kids love. When my girls were young, they did what we did, went where we went and were immersed in our activities. But now, as they build their own lives, I want to re-prioritize mine. To be involved in their lives, i can no longer expect them to simply do what I’m doing. So, I’m learning to love what they love.
The ultimate of friendship, (which is stage we are now in with our adult children) is to develop an interest in what the other is interested in. Over time I’ve come to appreciate track and field, electronic dance music, clean cooking, sales cycles and how to build a team! (Sorry girls, as much as I’m trying to develop a love for puppies, it’s not working!) My newest ‘learn’ is to embrace a whole new family as a result of my daughters’ love for new her in-laws!
Being a mom for 25 years has changed me! Heaven only knows what growth will come into my life if one day some little person calls me ‘Gamma’.