In some ways I have not stopped struggling with the fact that all of my adult children are living their own lives. I never thought I would be this way. I never thought I would be the one to miss them constantly, to still be sad at not being the center of their universes.
I grew them up to grow them out. I intended to enjoy them and then enjoy time with my husband since we started our marriage off with a child each and then added two more. I grew them to be independent of me and to make their own decisions—and own them. My greatest hope was that they would not need me…..
When my second to last one entered her senior year I entered into a downward slide. All the usual stuff. After all I had been being a mom for 25 years by that time. Two years later when my youngest graduated I wanted to die. Not literally…..buy you know.
Initially I blamed it on empty nest. Mid life crisis. Life changes. A year after that my oldest daughter got married and then moved to another state. My youngest went to Germany and has never really returned. And never will, she is different now, an adult……Your babies never really come home again because they are not babies anymore. It’s what I wanted…..right?……
I have struggled to figure out why I can’t get over this phase. Maybe I just don’t want to be happy. Or maybe I just wasn’t ready to be done yet.
I was a pretty bad parent in a lot of ways to my kids. My oldest of course bearing the brunt of my dysfunction. From the day I became pregnant with my oldest I determined I would work hard to be a better woman of God, a better mother. Every day I got up and determined to be better than yesterday and every night I went to bed feeling like I had missed it again, and again, and again.
I tried hard to change but it just seemed to happen so slowly. By the time I was a better parent my oldest two were out of the house. The youngest two benefited from me swinging a little to hard in the other direction and got away with far more than the oldest two. Now I needed to make up for the discrepancy with my oldest but they were already gone.
I wanted a chance to do it right. I wanted a second go round being wiser, more patient, less prone to raging and screaming. I wanted to go back and raise my kids without every cussing in front of them. I wanted the chance to prove I could be a good parent. I wanted to keep them a little longer and pray with them more.
I recently went to a graduation party for a young girl and the way this family spoke of how they raised their kids shamed me. I wish I could have been that good. This family will be the first to tell you that they are pretty far from perfect and it is true because none of us are perfect……I just wish I had been a little closer to perfect.
I want a do over. Before they all left I used to say that I do the best I can and the rest is up to God. That answer stopped satisfying me the minute the first one walked out the door. I trust that God will deal with my kids and take care of them and heal their hurts, I just didn’t want to be one of the hurts or dysfunctions that had to be healed.
It is not that I have never done anything right. I did plenty right. I did a ton right. I never stopped trying to change to give my kids more, better, healthier. I had fun with my kids and I absolutely LOVED them. They never doubted that. That kind of confidence is a beautiful thing. I played with them and laughed with them, and I cried with them and I tried to teach them.
But when I hold up my parent record to some of my friends……..it just never seems like enough.
And so I want a do over. I want another chance. I can’t quite shake that feeling that I did not finish my mission. I can’t help but feel I didn’t do enough of the good and I did too much of the bad.
I wonder how many other mothers feel the same way? How many of us feel like we haven’t had a chance to finish the test and we know there is no make up test. Our final has been graded and we hadn’t even finished it yet. I feel like there are so many boxes left unchecked.
But the reality of a do over is about as real as being able to put the toothpaste back in its tube. It can’t be done and it shouldn’t be done. How would I go about squeezing my kids back into childhood? and which part of childhood? And then doesn’t it become about me and not about them….or God for that matter?
Somehow I have to let go, not of them but of my need to redo it. But I am not sure how to do that. Funny but the closer I get to fifty the more I find myself saying things like that. I am not sure how to do that…..how to trust God that his grace is sufficient for me….sufficient for my children and that I do not need a do over?
His grace is sufficient. I obviously need that reminder in this. Can I say yes to no do overs and trust that God will take care of it all, including my heart?
I guess we’ll see. In the mean time I think I will lean into His grace for now.