Wednesday, June 29, 2011
The Mother is In
All that said, I wouldn't have been the mother I am and was if I hadn't have done other things too. I worked, I got educated, I involved myself with causes and community, and while I was not waiting at home every day with a plate of hot cookies when my kids came home from school, I was always as available as possible and as authentic as I could muster. I made mistakes, sometimes I was self-absorbed, other times I was smotheringly over-protective--I learned as I went along and my strongest motivators were to stay involved; stay engaged; and support their evolution as individuals and citizens.
I am still the Mother. Teri and I have a shared belief system in that we have never wanted to be our kids' friend--we were parents, mothers and grown-ups and while our job now is to stay out of the way more times than not, I still don't consider myself my kids' friend. I am champion, coach, therapist, ask-a-nurse, fan club president, Butterball Turkey hotline (my term for the cooking calls and questions), occasional donor and, always, the mother. I continue to try to be an example even though they will all go their own ways in life. What continues to delight and amaze me is that they all very much want me to be a part of their lives--the connection has changed but it continues.
Yesterday, I had impromptu, in-person visits from two of the kids at work. On the way home last night, I thought about how things have been over time--as a solo, working mom of three young kids, I remember pushing two soft chairs together in my office to make a bed for a sick 5-year-old who couldn't go to school; I also remember taking Lucy with me to a college class because she had a day off and she sat there with a six-year-old's pad and pencil scanning poetry along with the rest of the class in what seemed like a huge stadium seat. There were times when I shined and times when I stumbled--late pick-ups from soccer practice, band performances I had to miss, times I said the wrong things. Over dinner last night with my 19-year-old son, we talked about the money realities of the single mom--with no child support or alimony for my household, I was it and while it was never famine, it wasn't always feast either. With planning, determination and frugal creativity, we managed, and while I wish I could have done better, I'm pretty content that I was able to find a way to keep things as solid as we did. My kids also have a dad who is a part of their lives and they have strong relationships with grandparents, so they have been fortunate on different levels--but it hasn't always been a breeze.
So, as I listened yesterday and had the chats over my desk in time we carved out for connection, I couldn't help but be overwhelmed with love and appreciation for these amazing young adults. We still want to know each other even though we are all changing. They struggle with growing up and grown-up challenges and I am getting to a place where I am okay being a confidant and supporter without needing to jump in and save the day. I still couldn't imagine my life without them. While I try to treat them like the adults they are striving so diligently to become, in the back of my mind, they are still my kids and I will always feel a responsibility for them. Unlike some parents of adult kids, I don't see them as little or imagine them as the babies they once were--when I look across the table or desk or room, I see them as the young adults they are (it is as if those babies were completely different people) and I have absolute confidence in their abilities to navigate life--I'm just grateful they continue to let me be a part of it on whatever levels!