Thursday, April 7, 2011

If You Really Knew Me...

 If you really knew me....

You would know I'm struggling with the slow process of letting go of my children. When they were younger it was difficult at times. The sheer physicality of caring for them...wiping bottoms, noses, mouths, anything that moved...I wiped!  Consoling the weepy, kissing the needy, laughing with the carefree, frustrated with the stubbornness and unending determination of three children who wanted to do it their way.
....and it was hard. 

Yet I was queen of the kingdom. I could pull up the drawbridge, and we were all safe in our palace. I could control choose those things that I wanted them to learn...that I wanted them to soak in like little sponges. 
.....and all was right with our world.  

Then...they ventured out of our kingdom.  Little adventures... and they would come back telling me tales of glory or defeat depending on the day. Calender time and show-and- tell gave way to big kid's stories. Who they sat with at lunch and how they did on their projects were all shared at the end of the day.
They were writing their own life stories with each days memories.
....and I was still a part of it.

Now it's different....and my head knows that this is the way it should be.  Teenagers are finding their way...testing their independence...trying to figure out what is solid in their world and who they want to be apart from mom and dad. Starting to build their own unique kingdom. My head knows this. Yet, my heart? My heart is still fighting the inevitable.
.....and it's painful.

People tried to tell me when they were smaller. "They grow up so fast, enjoy them while you can" was the standard line I would get from those more experienced parents.  They would share the stories of their teenagers. Dating, driving, drinking, drugs, drama.  All the D words. All the things that put fear in a mother's heart. But those things were so far away.....far, far away in a distant place. I had pictures to paint and pudding to make. 
...and I didn't really understand.

I didn't understand that even when they are 18, or 16, or 13 I would still see glimpses of my little companions. My heart soars as we share a joke, a smile, a poignant moment. But some days that's all I see..glimpses. As they struggle for their independence they seem at times....strangers. But wait...these are MY babies. Flesh of my flesh..bone of my bone....and I used to know every part of them intimately. How can those familiar eyes be locked with mine....and look so unfamiliar? I am no longer queen of their kingdom.
.....and I feel left behind.

 I can't pull up that drawbridge anymore...not without their permission. They are making their own choices, fighting their own battles, and earning their own victories. I used to worry about them crossing the street or getting in a car with strangers. Now it seems much bigger. They are driving to different cities and getting in cars with other teenagers.
...and I feel scared.

I also struggle with the illusion. You know the one..the illusion that other moms don't struggle with darker feelings. Because, let's be honest, there are certain things that we don't want to talk about; things we don't even want to admit to ourselves. Since we don't talk about it I wasn't quite prepared when that feeling came. That feeling of not liking their choices, and at times  not liking the person they appear to be. There!  I said it... the thing that most moms don't want to admit. The fact that although they are my beloveds I don't like them at times.
....and I feel guilty.

In my kingdom of old, I forgot to mention the king. That isn't because the king isn't important...because he certainly is! It's just in those early days he was off slaying dragons... or something like that... while I was home keeping the fires burning.  I need to mention him now because he is essential. He is my partner, my friend, my love, and the person I would still choose to spend a whole day with.  I haven't put all my identity, all my story, on our children. We've worked hard on keeping the "us" in our remembering that it began with the two of us and someday it will be just the two of us once again.
...and I feel grateful.

This time will end. I know that the teenage years are not forever. I just wish I had been better prepared for the onslaught of emotions that would tumble around me. I knew their hormones would be going rouge..I just didn't know mine would also.  Yet, my compassionate oldest son throws me a grin as he walks out the door, keys in hand saying, " It's ok Mom. I know it's your job to watch over and worry about me. I love you".  My middle one, my 6'1" sunshine boy, wraps his arms around me in a bear me his own brand of reassurance. My precious baby girl, going through the 13 year old angst I remember so well, falls on my lap wanting to be snuggled for just a moment. Still needing her mama's touch.
...and I feel encouraged.

So....if you made it this far ....and if you really knew would know that I'm struggling with relinquishing my throne. Yet this shouldn't be surprising. Motherhood is born in a mixture of pleasure and pain, and those are emotions we never outgrow. The holding on, the letting go, the bitter, and the sweet, all come with the journey. Watching them come into their own...watching them "becoming" a privilage.
...and I feel blessed.   


  1. kristi, thank you for this! mine are still so young and i treasure reading about moms who are going through older children feelings--it makes me aware of what is to come. and also, if only a little bit, prepares me--both my heart and my mind--for that.

  2. You went and made me cry! My kids are still so young, but reading this sends my thinking ahead to those years when I too will have to learn to let go. The time is already flying by, and knowing that someday I will not longer be able to "pull up the drawbridge" and keep them safe here with me is scary and saddening. Thanks for sharing your feelings. Its just proof that being a mom never gets any easier, it's always challenging and changing. And, reason to cherish these days as high queen even more than I already do. :)

  3. "In my kingdom of old, I forgot to mention the king. That isn't because the king isn't important...because he certainly is! It's just in those early days he was off slaying dragons... or something like that... while I was home keeping the fires burning."

    You just described my life (the younger years) to A T. And I'm scared of the teenage D years. And you know what... it is 100% okay to be afraid of relinquishing that throne. I can't even imagine. So I will only support. ((hugs))

  4. This made me cry!! I think the one thing that helps me get through the trying, toddler times right now is knowing I will miss the young days when they are older, and your piece completely validates beautifully. Oh my. So beautiful.

    Oh, and there are plenty of days I don't like my kids either. :) I try and remind myself of the things I did as a teenager and how my parents probably weren't the most thrilled, but I turned out alright. You did a great job mothering, and they will turn out beautiful people. :)

    Thanks for this bigger picture moment. It has helped me right now as I feel exhausted, and I will pray for you to get through this time in your life in a joyful way.

  5. This is my biggest fear! I know that I'm going to have a horrible time when my son gets older. I'm already freaking out about leaving him for the first time and it will only be for 3 days. I guess you just confirmed my fears that it never gets easier.

  6. Thanks for sharing this post. I think about the same things with my boys. Mine is 6 and he is with me every other week, while my former stepson is 12 and with me on the same weekend I have my boy. Every other week and weekend I watch them walk away and although I've been doing it for 2 years now, it's still the hardest thing to let go and watch them live half their lives (or more) without me. All you can do is cherish the time you get and make great memories.

  7. I'm both looking forward to, and absolutely dreading, those days.

  8. I HATE it... while it's amazing to watch them succeed and the feeling of them calling ME when they need to talk is amazing- (my son just moved to Germany, with the army and my daughters are 20 and 12) i hate it. I want them home, with me... and i know those moments are fewer and fewer. (and darn it if i didn't get enough of them to begin with!!!) but i smile. I don't let them know i hate it...

  9. This made me get all teary. I'm in the little kid phase still (and there are days I do not like one child or the other, depending on their attitude!) and I am dreading the teenage years, the letting go years.

    I am enjoying them now with the thought in the back of my mind just how precious these days are.

  10. I don't think you rambled at all--your post was perfect. I've had three children in three years, and the one thing I HATE to hear is when people tell me to enjoy this time--because honestly, it's not always enjoyable. Three little kids who don't nap and get into everything--yikes!

    I think it's comforting to know that we all struggle--sometimes differently, sometimes the same--but the challenge for all is to enjoy the glimpses, no matter the stage in which they come.

  11. I am starting to go through the exact same thing. My kids are 12 & 14 and they are growing up so fast. We have not hit all the "D's" yet, thank goodness, but they still scare me.

  12. I'm trying to stay calm about all this, but...I'm SO attached to my kids right now that the prospect of being left out of their lives or wondering what's behind their terrifies me. I know my post today said things about being beautiful and strong, calm and present as the foundation for their growth. I know I said that. But the truth is, I merely *hope* that. I hope I can be serene and graceful and encouraging of their independence. It's so hard...

    But your last paragraphs about hope and hugs and will be okay. It will.

    This is a lovely post, and I'm so grateful that you shared it. I feel like it's preparing me for the future -- and I'm a strong proponent of facing the truth in order to embrace it. Thank you :)

  13. Kristi, thank you SO much for linking this to BPMs today. Your words are so heartfelt, so honest, so resounding. I'm not there yet. I'm far from it. I'm in the daily duty of "wiping anything that moves" as you said. But I see it looming ahead with every small step of independence my 3.5 year old makes. It blows my mind.
    Thank you for this peak inside your heart; I feel really blessed to have read this today.

  14. I would like to send you a hug today. I think you need it. I felt it coming on the other day when you left me that beautiful comment about thinking back when my baby was younger. Hardly a baby :) anyhow I understand how you feel. I think for me it got harder when Josh went away to college but I kept telling myself that he has to live his life and follow his dreams. This is beautiful, you opened your heart and shared with us.xxxx

  15. It's so hard for me to believe my little girl is six years old...I can't imagine what she'll be like in ten years! I just hope that I am as good as a mother to my children that my mother was to hers.

  16. I love your honesty here, Kristi. My imaginations of my children as teens are often highly caricatured: I see them either as glowing, grown perfect beings or angry housemates who chase all those D's and make their mother cry. Reading through your thoughts as you grow with them reminds me that those children of mine are people. I get to watch their journey and participate, but I don't get to control it.

  17. Oh Kristi...I fear I will be writing similar words in 10 years...unless that machine I am working on that keeps them small works :-)

    Oh that letting go, and knowing that my husband and I didn't make good decisions in our youth yet having faith that we will raise good kids who will make better ones...oh so hard.

  18. What a lovely way of writing your story! I'm sorry that you are struggling with these emotions, and oh, how children can.not.understand. how hard it is for mothers to let go.

    But you will NEVER stop being their mother. While you might not always be in the driver seat of their car, it sounds like you have such the relationship with them that you will always be in their ear. Whether they show it or not, they most likely will always consider your voice, somewhere underneath.

    And the more you let go, the more they might just stun and amaze you, and make you proud. The lighter you keep the rein, the more likely they will come to you of their own volition, even if it has to be over the phone. But sometimes I think one of the most beautiful parts of a mother-child relationship is when a child gets mature enough the mother can "mother" a little bit less and "befriend" a little bit more. Sometimes that can create a very beautiful dynamic of it's own.

    Best of luck to you.

  19. Took a different challenge (the poem) but wrote about the same stage in life. This was beautifully written! It sometimes takes my breath away that, after 27 years of marriage, and with 2 grown kids, I look across the living room at night, and HE'S still the one! Love the gratitude that you express for the KING! And share all the sentiments... Visiting from Mama Kats ~ Adrienne

  20. I remember being worried about the smallness of my baby, and then the tumbles of my toddler, and then the influence of friendships made fast amoung preschoolers, and then I worried about them being gone from me for whole days in school with their little hearts vulnerable, and now we are reaching the edge of teens and oh how scared I am about the bigness of the worries that will follow us now and the lack of control that we will have over it. I am a little behind you but oh how I already know what you are talking about.


Leave a comment & make me smile!