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
.....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 marriage....in 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 hug...giving 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 me...you 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"...is a privilage.
...and I feel blessed.