I love that Bowie song. Life is all about changes, some you welcome, others you dread, and then there are those constant little changes that go on everyday. These go basically unnoticed until that one day when you wake up and say, "Hey! When did that happen?" There is a point in every parent's life when this happens, some parents may have many moments like this. I'm having a big one now.
As a parent of four I know the meaning of busy, swamped, overwhelmed, and yes, joy, and unconditional love also. Having a full house is chaotic in good and bad ways. I've learned over the years to pick my battles, fight the important ones, and above all I've learned to put my head down like a bull and plow through tough times. It's how I got things done, never stopping to think how tired I was or how crazy things were (like the boy scout hike for my oldest where my husband & I ended up carrying our younger kids up the entire mountain). Or taking care of my 6 year old and my 3 month old sons, who learned to share very early on. Too bad it was a horrible case of Chicken Pox. No matter what the situation, no matter the challenge each new change brought, we just did it. That's what a parent does. Your kids need something, you do it. But, what do you do when they don't need you any longer?
I don't think anyone ever stops needing their parents in an emotional sense. They do, if we've done our job right, stop needing us to physically do everything and be everywhere with them. This is a hard change to handle. There's no way to put my head down and charge through this challenge, because the challenge is to stand back and let my kids change into the adults they are becoming, eventually completely independent of me. Necessary, but heart wrenching at the same time.
We are dealing with big changes in our family. My oldest is saving for his own place, my second son is leaving for college next Friday, son#3 is starting middle school, and my baby is going into 6th grade. Our family unit will be forever altered. This is not an easy thing to grasp. How did they get so big? Where did all those sleepless nights go, diaper changes, first steps, milestones? When did they go from learning how to tie their shoes to running out the door to their own adulthood?
I chatted this morning about this very thing with a couple of friends on Twitter and with moms IRL, including my own. The response was basically the same. We raise our kids to become happy, healthy, independent people, but when the day comes for them to do that we want to shove them back into a cradle and have more time (metaphorically anyway). Why? I can only answer for me, and I'm sure when my younger two kids are ready to jump ship I'll have a different answer. Here's how I feel now.
Change is never easy. I have devoted the last 20 years to my family. That's 240 months, 7305 days, 175,316 hours...you get the picture. That's a lot of time in. A lot of changes took place to get us to where we are today. Now I'm faced with changes that will take us away from the family as we know it. We'll always be family, but not the same. As their ages change so do the dynamics. It's not just the kids learning to be more independent, I too have to learn how to be independent from them. That's the hard part for me. I'm not a clingy mom, but I can't help feeling like it's all happening too fast. Not to mention that dreaded mortality monster. When we see our children become adults we can't ignore how much older we are too. So as I worry about what kind of lives my children will make for themselves, I also worry how much I will be around for. That's a scary thought.
The one thing I know is there is no easy way to deal with all of life's changes. Fighting them is exhausting and a waste of time. They're going to happen anyway, with or without my consent. What I will do is listen to David Bowie; I will "...turn and face the change..." Embrace it even? Well, maybe not right away, but I will retain the belief that not all change is bad. For example, if I don't allow my kids to grow up and move out, how will I put my evil plan into action. The plan where I shove dirty socks under their couches, write my name in permanent marker on their vinyl siding, and pee all over their bathroom seat (Yes! I said it, you all know you want to.) Pay back is a mother ;)
Sure, I may have more sad days, growing up and letting go are processes, they take time. If I get too sad, or begin to dwell too much, someone please direct me back here to this blog post, where I can recharge and remember why I did all this. I want to see the look on my adult kids' faces when they come out of that bathroom. :D
For some other great blogs for parents you have to read these. They inspired me to write about my changes and help me keep a sense of humor about this thing we call parenting.
Thanks for stopping by and for your patience while I took a little summer blog nap :) It was needed and now it's over.
Kristin : )