This week’s Spin Cycle Assignment: Roles. Mother, father, sister, brother, daughter, son, teacher, clerk, cashier, hero, damsel.. We all have roles. What’s your role? Favorite role? Least favorite? Role you feel obligated to play? What role defines you best? What role do you want to redefine?
Roles – I’ve been thinking about that a LOT this past week. Especially since we just got the news that our baby bird, #3, is leaving the nest and our nest will officially empty (‘cept of course for me and Hubby). I’m not sure how to react to that news or how I feel about it. Hubby, of course, literally had a panic attack. It’s one thing knowing it’s probably gonna happen soon, but, given a date (in less than two weeks) makes it really sink in (along with the ensuing panic).
One of the roles I have always loved is that of being a mother. I love my kids with all my heart. I put my heart and soul into being a mom. Before Hubby and I got married, all I wanted to be was a wife and mother. I tried to be the best wife in the world and unfortunately for him, once we had kids, my attention shifted to my kids and being the best mom in the world. Sorry, honey, you know… priorities!
When we start out as parents, we are the sole care-givers for our kids. I don’t think we ever really got a baby sitter for our kids until #1 was almost 3. We had gone on a couple of trips for my husband’s work and my sister had kept them but other than that, I think I can count on one hand and have fingers left over, the number of times we left them with a sitter until after #1 was 3. After that, we had one neighbor family that had a little girl about #1’s age that we would “trade” sitting services with. Basically it was play dates where I’d drop #1 and #2 at this neighbor’s house to play and I’d get my shopping or whatever done and vice versa. She would sometimes leave her youngest daughter and her son at our house so she could go to her classes or whatever she needed to do. She did have an older daughter who was 15 or 16 and she babysat for us occasionally. You can read about one of those instances here.
Until #1 was in kindergarten that was about the only time I left them with someone. Then once she was in kindergarten, one of her best friend’s moms would trade out sitting services and when they started dance and gymnastics, we had other parents that we would trade out with occasionally. Pretty much though my kids were with me. I shopped with them, we went out to eat with them or if we didn’t we just stayed home. I loved being with my kids and never wanted to be away from them.
Then, when #2 started Pre-K, I started back to work. I had a friend pick them up from school and watch them until I got off work. I really tried not to work full time until she started actual kindergarten. And that was when I got pregnant with #3. So, after she was born, we moved to Virginia and I stayed at home again. Through the move to Tennessee and back to Georgia I stayed at home with my kids and I loved being a stay at home mom. After we moved back to Georgia I started an at home day care just so I could be at home with my kids. I seriously never understood the moms I knew that couldn’t wait to go to work to get away from their kids. I didn’t go back to work outside the home until #3 was in Pre-K and didn’t go back full time until she was in kindergarten. The only reason I stopped the in home day care was that I wanted to be free to participate in my kids activities and having an in home day care tied me down to where I couldn’t.
I actively volunteered for everything my kids were in. I was the quintessential involved parent. If they needed someone to take over a committee for the PTA, I did it. If they needed someone to bake cookies or cupcakes for the bake sales, I did it. If they needed someone to volunteer in the classroom or office at the school, I did it. Until I went back to work fulltime I did whatever they needed me to do. Then I really missed it. I tried to stay local so that I could get off at a decent hour so that I could still be involved. So, my role as a mom, morphed and shifted as the kids got older, to chauffeur, gopher, PTA mom, cook, coach…. Whatever was needed, that’s what I wanted to be…. as long as I was involved. They older my kids got, and the less they needed me (i.e. they got their own licenses, cars, lives) the more I could feel the loss. It would physically hurt me sometimes to think my kids didn’t NEED me like they used to.
I know now, that they will always NEED me in SOME aspect, but not like they used to. I remember the time, before boyfriends and husbands, when we were their world and their source of knowledge for whatever they needed. How do I do this? How do I cook this? How do I fix this? And Hubby and I were always ready to give them whatever answer they needed. And it made us feel good, needed, appreciated, and wanted.
I’ll never forget the first time Hubby became the NON expert in #1’s world. She had asked our opinion on something. I can’t even remember now what it was. Hubby told her his opinion and she kind of poo pooed the idea like she didn’t really believe it was correct. Hubby was beside himself that she actually HESITATED to take his advice. The next day she called and told us her boyfriend (who is now her husband) had given her the solution to her problem. We asked her what his solution was and it was the EXACT same solution hubby had given her the day before that she had scoffed at, BUT…. Now that BF had suggested the very same scenario….the answer was golden. Hubby was CRUSHED…..crushed I tell you! He could not believe that she took his (BF) word as gold (the very same words he had given her) over his own. I just looked at him and said “You’ve been replaced.”
That was the beginning of the end as he saw it. He wasn’t the most important man in her life anymore and I wasn’t the most important person to her anymore. Our love had become secondary to someone else’s. Not that we had not wanted this for our children all along, but, still it’s a hard pill to swallow to become secondary in their lives when you have always been primary.
You always want your children to be happy and healthy and sometimes that means stepping back and getting out of their way so they can spread their wings and fly off into the sunset. Soar on the wings of eagles instead of being carried by us carry them. You want your children to be strong and independent and self sufficient but that doesn’t mean that watching them attain that ultimate goal is easy. It doesn’t mean that you don’t want them to still “need” you every once in a while.
I tell you, I look at my mom and dad now and I am in such awe of them. They did this six times. This is SO hard. How the heck do you “let go” six times? I’m having a heck of a time with three. It’s one of those times when I feel it most appropriate to say “It hurts so good.” I know feel what that means now. It feels so good to see them become independent and NOT need you but it hurts so much at the same time. I love my girls with all my heart and will always be here for them if and when they need me. I want them to be strong independent women and to have wonderful lives and be wonderful moms to THEIR kids. And nothing can replace that nurturing desire in me to be a mom…. Except maybe to be a grandma? Hint, hint #1 (most totally awesome badass daughter/person ever) 🙂