I was flipping through a bunch of Tiktok videos one morning while running on the treadmill. We all know that Tiktok makes time move faster. As I was tired, I wanted the time it took to complete this particular morning’s run to bolt like lightning. And it did. It also stopped me in my tracks…or should I say one insightful young man did.
His video hit so close to home, I had to watch it several times. In it, he explained how his mom – a single mother who had raised five kids all by herself to become successful, happy, and self-sufficient adults – continued to have a difficult time adjusting to her children being all grown-up and out on their own. Specifically, she didn’t know what her place in their lives was now because her own remarkable accomplishment and success in this regard, had put her out of a job, so to speak.
This young man would go on to praise his mother and tell her that she still holds a very important role in her children’s lives, that they still needed her, not in the way that they once had but in an entirely new way, no less important. He was comforting and wisely advising his mother the way she had obviously done for him while growing up.
Everything this young man said, pierced my heart as the woman he described could have been me. I too am the mother of five, now grown-up, kids who I raised on my own. I too put everything I had into raising my brood. Countless hours were spent “getting it right” with little space left to establish any other identity than being “their mom.” And I must admit, I struggle with what my role is now in their lives according to the new rules at play. And not because of anything that my kids have done but simply because they were my entire world not too long ago. Now, however, they have their own lives – separate from me – of which I play a part, a part that I must be satisfied with for the good of everyone involved, but a part unlike any I’ve known prior in relation to them. It isn’t easy…not easy at all.
I know many parents struggle with this, whether or not they “did it on their own.” Plenty have. Plenty haven’t. But making the necessary adjustment to being the mom of adult kids out-on-their-own takes on a whole new meaning when it has only been “you and them” for as far back as you can remember. Pride in ‘who they have become’ and the ‘great job you did’ hardly cushions the present-day realization, especially as the memories of the wonderful days you once had together come pouring back regularly. Sometimes I catch myself thinking that “I would trade a day at the end of my life, for one today of them being all together and little again.”
It isn’t something that I have ever shared with my kids nor have I ever divulged just how difficult it was for me to go through the moments when they were claiming their rightful independence. Some of them were really hard and the words I endured, harsh. I know that nothing said was ever meant to purposely hurt me, just as I know that most parents understand what I mean, without judgement. Breaking away isn’t easy on anyone, and with “youth” comes blindness, boldness, and blazing tongues for most at one point or another. But we forgive and we forget because we already have learned that none of this is meant to be perfect, but all of it is worth it.
Like the very mother this young man was speaking to, I may never fully make the adjustment in the way that would probably make it easiest on all of us. But my love and responsibility to my kids (and myself now) will push me to continue to try.
In the meantime, all I can say is, “It would make it a heck of a lot easier on me if one of these adult kids of mine would push out a grandkid or two. A heck of a lot. Just sayin’.”