Sunday, June 13, 2010

Graduating and Mixed Emotions

Gradually Graduating to Freedom

Well, here we are. For all practical purposes the physically exhausting and mentally draining part of parenthood is over. The sleepless nights, endless requests, and constant needs that must be met have all but come to an end. Now their lives are more or less their own and I'll be available for advice and counsel when needed but I'm finished looking for the shoe that somehow ended up in the toy box. The police showing up at my door because 911 had been called due to his sister's crying; a thing of the past. If I never make another peanut butter and jelly sandwich'll be too soon. Don't get me wrong, I have loved being a mom. Best job ever, wouldn't trade it for the world but the seasons of life keep changing and that is the way it is supposed to be. Best to live by the Marine motto: Improvise Adapt and Overcome. Watch carefully as I change out of my mom costume and back into who I was before I had them. Wait....that's impossible. It was SO long ago and now that I think of it, I don't think I cared much for her anyway. That body, though....okay, let it go. Let's move on. Time to redefine myself...again. And without guilt! Can I get an amen, ladies? Mom guilt and fear of failing at the most important job in the world are two emotions I won't be longing for.

Lately I've noticed that fear is becoming an emotion I'm less willing to put up with. I think it must have something to do with the fact that I've been its captive so often while bringing up children. The list of things to be afraid of is endless and rules so many of our decisions as modern parents. (whether or not that is healthy or even rational is an idea to tackle another time) So as I'm doing an inventory of what I'll miss and what I won't, fear heads the list for the latter. I also won't miss: tantrums in public, drastic mood swings, stepping on Legos, (and hearing them bouncing around inside the vacuum) and feeling positive that I am doing it all wrong and it is all going to end with my turning two really warped individuals out into society....if I don't call Human Services and turn myself in first. So all of that worrying and insecurity and the reading of countless parenting no, won't miss that.

I know that this is where you expect me to list all the things I WILL miss. I'm sure that list is just the same as most of yours. Just fill in all the sweetness of them on a good day and you get the picture. Fat little feet running down a beach, a birthday cake with dinosaurs, the simple happiness of playing in a sprinkler...mud. But one thing that I will remember above everything else; reading to them. Coming home from the library with more books than little arms could carry, Little Women aloud by the fireplace, wondering how Robinson Crusoe would survive, Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, Pollyanna, Winnie the Pooh....Peter Rabbit. Where the Wild Things Are and Goodnight Moon. Sometimes I wander into the children's section of the bookstore and sigh. But not to worry, along with one large dollhouse and THOUSANDS of Legos, there is a very large collection of books put away for some future little people that may come my way.

I've had many parents of adult children tell me lately that it isn't ever really over and being a parent to adult children is difficult. Define difficult. I get that I'll worry a bit about them always and hope they make good decisions and are happy but let's face it, whatever it is, I won't be legally responsible for it. No one is going to look at me and wonder why I can't make them behave. There will not be WWIII over a Happy Meal or blood curdling screams over a lost toy. Some of those things may be in my future, but at that point I'll be able to pick up the phone and say "They are ready to come home now."

So come Saturday morning when my son walks across the stage I'll mentally call the thing over. It won't be that clean I'm sure. I'm taking tissues just in case and I'm on the watch for some super emotional mom meltdown but so far so good. After that I'm going shopping and planning a trip. Guilt free. Tenacity is a good character quality but there comes a time the best thing you can do for the people you love is open your arms...and let go.

Note: My son has graduated since this was written and I am happy to report that there were no tears or emotional melt downs.  I did however, fairly rapidly, ship him off to China but more about that later...

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