So a month ago my oldest son turned 20 years old. In eight days my second son will graduate high school. He’s already 18. That makes me the mother of two grown men. In August TJ, starts high school and Christopher starts junior high. Within 10 years all of my child raising will be done. It is an overwhelming thought for me.
You would think that being 20 years into this adventure of raising boys to be men, I would be eagerly looking forward to the day when I can rest from such heavy responsibility. But, oddly, my reaction is on the very opposite end of the spectrum. I am really not handling any of it well. I’ve been trying to figure this out for a while now and today I had sort of a light bulb moment about it.
I have been raising kids for 20 years, my entire adult life. I had Damon 11 months after I graduated high school. The way my kids are spaced out in age, I’ve had young children filling my days and nights for all of those 20 years. As the baby of the five is getting older the need for mommy lessens. I think that is where my struggle is. My life did not turn out anything like I had planned it when I was growing up. I was so sure I had this life thing figured out… until it actually happened to me. Turns out that I am not always a very good grownup. As a matter of fact I am rarely a good grownup. I have been so many things as an adult. I’ve been a waitress, a store clerk, delivery driver, apartment manager, salesperson, office manager, homemaker and web site designer. But the only thing I’ve ever been truly successful at, the only thing I’ve ever consistently been is a good mom.
I’ve had moments of failure and moments of weakness. But there is never a day when I am not a mom to my kids… never a day where I don’t give being a mom 110% of myself. Where I have failed at so many other things in my life, raising kids is something I feel, I’ve done with great success. Being a mom is the one thing in my life that I’ve unquestionably identified with for 20 years. Even in my worst mommy fail moments, I knew that overall, I was doing right by my kids. That I was raising them to be good people and instilling good manners and healthy self esteems into them. I might screw up every other part of my life… ok, probably it’s more than might and much closer to I did or I will screw up every other part of my life. I might fail at every other endeavor I try. I have failed out of just about every career choice I’ve made, didn’t finish college, can still barely manage money, in my late 30s even, I’ve never owned a home, I’m not at all prepared for retirement and I’m running my business on a wing and prayer. Raising my kids is the one area of my life where I’ve never doubted. I’ve never questioned my ability to do it well. And, it is the only area of my life that I’ve never self-sabotaged.
I think this is why I struggle so much with my kids growing up and going through these major milestones in their lives. When Damon and Tyler went through their first days of junior high and high school, it was stressful because it was new and they were my babies but I had little babies at home at t the time. Now, with my baby going on 9 years old, these milestones make life feel a bit like sand slipping through my fingers. With each milestone we reach, the day gets closer where there will be no one to mommy. There will be no life lessons left to be taught, no more boo boos to kiss or baseball games to go too. No more class parties or permission slips to sign. No more table of full of boys telling funny, albeit sometimes disgusting, stories over dinner. There will be no more lake days or “Hey, Mom, watch this.” All of the laundry baskets will be empty, the bedrooms clean, and the calendars blank. No more chorus rehearsals or band concerts. No more Halloween costumes to buy or birthday parties to plan.
If my children are the only thing I’ve ever been real and truly good at it… if they are my only success story and the only thing I’ve ever consistently stuck with, where does that leave me when they are all gone. Who will I be when I’m no longer Mommy? That is an overwhelmingly emotional question that I do not have the answer to and every milestone we reach in the lives of these little boys who comprise all of the very best parts of me, brings me closer to being undeniably face to face with that question.
I don’t fear growing older, but I am so afraid of living a life without purpose. Having spent 29 years of my life, by the time Colton graduates, with my children as my purpose, where in the world do I go from there?