Last year, at the end of the school year, our crossing guard was very emotional. He’d tell any parent that would listen that he remembered his little girl walking to that same elementary school and how she was graduating from high school in just a couple of weeks. He said he never understood those parents who couldn’t wait until their children would be out of the house. But I have to confess,
12. I was looking forward to being an empty nester.
Now let’s be clear. I have a long way to go until that day gets here! But when he said it, I realized I really was one of those people. The kind he couldn’t understand.
I blame a lot of my feeling that way on being single. There’s a part of me that sometimes thinks it would just be easier on everyone for me to wait, until my mid 50’s when the girls are both off to college, to date. Because of that, I kind of make THAT the next phase of my life and it’s one I look forward to.
That was me. I was making plans. Where I would live, what I would do, the kind of car I would drive – all when the girls were gone.
But during this year I recognized that sometimes looking forward to something makes you miss what you’re actually experiencing. Not only was I diminishing the value of the moments I was sharing with my girls. I was postponing my own happiness to a certain degree. Not only in the dating area, but even in things as simple as the kind of car I drive. I believe in putting my kids needs above mine, but I shouldn’t be completely ignoring my own wants or putting them on hold for a decade to accommodate my kids.
And they’ve never asked me to do that – put my life on hold. Maybe they’re too young to even know how. But, they deserve a mom who is living her best life RIGHT now. I don’t want to teach them to put off their own happiness because of made up obstacles or to be a martyr. I want them to dream big and live big. Putting off my own dreams won’t teach them that.
I think if I’m really honest with myself, I was also acting like they were somewhat of an interruption to my life. Not because I didn’t love them or feel blessed to have them, but because I had SO much to do – primarily work. But also other things like community service, networking, etc. I used to tell people all the time – If you think you’re too selfish to have kids, you’re right! Kids change everything and they take so much of your focus that even when you always wanted them and love them dearly, it can sometimes seem like they’re getting in the way of other things you’d like to do.
My priorities were mixed up. I was sacrificing time with my kids going to events for work or other things because I felt it was important and I needed to. And yes, sometimes I liked all the running around, but nowadays I miss my kids, even when I’m at work and they’re at school. I WANT to lean into their homework and do flash cards for tests with them. I want to SOAK up every minute I can with them, even when they’re driving me crazy. I feel like being with them now is a gift, not a responsibility. So I’m trying to be more deliberate about what I do when I could be with the girls. Things that rejuvenate me and make me better – like time with my girlfriends or maybe even a date that seems to have some potential, I’ll do it. Dinners where no one will even remember who was there or what was talked about, I’ll pass.
My perspective is so different. Not only because of what we went through but because of the real possibility that I may not have as much time with them as I’d always assumed. And if that is the case, I want to make the most of what I do have with them now. NEVER once have I thought about how upset I’d be to never get that 2nd chance at love or the convertible or the penthouse apartment, cause that’s not what I’d miss.
I’m excited that I have a second chance to really enjoy my kids and lean into the short 18 years they’ll live in my home. I know I’ll still be mom after that (living in a penthouse, driving a convertible!), but there’s nothing like THESE years, when you’re the most important person to them. I’m trying to appreciate hearing MOM, MOM, MOM, MOM, MOM – more everyday.