Sunday, May 5, 2013

Learning to Leave your Kids Behind

The title sounds terrifying, even wrong, somehow.  Didn't I just spend the last seven years of my life learning how to embrace every aspect of motherhood?  How many poopy diapers have I joyfully rinsed in the toilet? How many ENDLESS loads of laundry and dishes have I washed and put away?  How many pointlessly goofy questions have I fielded over the past seven years?  It's really impossible to say.  Really.  But one thing is for certain-

It is now very hard to say goodbye to my kids.
Which is ok.  Normal, even.  I really truly enjoy my kids.  I love to learn with them, play with them, set aside daily chores just to be with them.  It's true.  I don't like to say to say goodbye to them even if it is just so I can get to the gym 3 evenings a week or go to work to help support our family a few nights out of the week.  The problem isn't them.  It's good for them, and for us.

Will they know the real me when they're grown and gone?
For me this is the biggest point of parenting:  teaching your kids how to be make that awkward transition from innocence to knowledge; from childhood to adulthood; from living in the moment to living in the "now" and all it's busyness.  Do I want them to see the perfect me that never slips up and always keeps the house tidy?  Or do I want them to see my true fallen nature with the "insert-Grace-here" that makes it all possible?  Believe me, I'm not saying my kids should know all the shadows of my life.  Yet.  But they should have glimpses so that they can better understand their own shadows.  They need to know they are not alone in this crazy life.

And who exactly am I supposed to be?
If we forget how to say hello to ourselves, Mothers, we've lost something that may never return.  What is it that I truly need?  I'm not talking pedicures and play-dates, here, people (though they have a fun importance of their own).  What I truly need is adventure.  I need a reason to exist beyond my kids and my husband.  I need divine appointments and silence and the hopefulness that springs out of NOT BEING IN MY HOUSE SURROUNDED BY PILES OF STUFF.  Yes, I shouted that.  I really did.  And it's ok because I'm in my car blasting Ani DiFranco on my way to the gym.  Or to work.  Or somewhere that is not in the presence of my children or even my husband.  Speaking of which...

Can He even see me, anymore?
I need to be the woman my husband fell in love with; not the one he married, but the teeny-tiny "me" that he saw growing inside that was full of hopes and dreams and promises.  I cannot fail her and I will not fail him.  That's right.  It's old fashioned.  But it's true.  We made a covenant almost ten years ago that we would love, honor, cherish and protect each other which means that we will FIGHT for each other and for this marriage every day.  Most days it's truly not difficult.  But it will be if I forget who I am or if he forgets who he is.

Can He see them the way I do?
Of course not.  He's a creature driven by his own needs and desires and he has his own fight.  He has to say good-bye every day to these beautiful kids so he can go to work. He's the expert on good-byes.  I'm just the novice.  But I want him to see them with the same lens of passion and diligence by which I view them.  If only for one evening.  And he does when I am able to back out and go take care of myself.

SO- when the kids ask why I have to go to the gym or why I have to go to work I just tell them- "Because it makes me a better mommy.  And it's good for you to have some special time with Daddy."  And that really is an easy answer because it's true.

For more resources about how to help your kids with this difficult transition, check out my other blog and the post about Saying Goodbye to Mommy...