Kids Growing Up? It’s Time for a New Dream, Mom

Kids Growing Up? It’s Time for a New Dream, Mom

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This is the part where I am supposed to tell you that I can’t believe the kids growing up years are almost over, but that would be a lie. I CAN believe that my kids are almost up and out- the empty nest is coming sooner rather than later because both will be leaving to college. The truth is that the days were long and the years flew by.

As the kids fly out of the nest, many moms don’t seem sure about what to do for their Second Act. Some reflection seems in order as we begin this important transition. 

I was never the girl that couldn’t wait to be a mommy. I somehow got the message that I was supposed to feel guilty about that. I had some strange ideas that you had to enjoy cooking to be a mom, but cooking includes two of my least favorite things-shopping and cleaning. Yes, I know my disdain for shopping pretty much means I have to tear up my woman card, but I really do loathe shopping and cleaning. 

In retrospect, I find it strange that I thought I lacked the maternal gene. After all, I started babysitting at age nine-this was my first among many entrepreneurial ventures- and I was good at it. 

I’ve given this a lot of thought and I think my ambivalence about motherhood was more fear than anything. Fear of what?  Well besides the fact that natural childbirth did not turn out to be a picnic in the park, fear of what it would mean to my sense of self.

To put it bluntly, I was afraid that I would disappear into motherhood. That all my hopes and dreams would evaporate into thin air. I just couldn’t figure out how there would be enough space to do all of the things I wanted to do and still be the kind of mom that I wanted to be. 

I did all the right things. Picked a good man. Got married. Bought the house. Waited to have a kid until we were reasonably financially stable.

The year before I got pregnant I received a promotion at work and felt that I was finally on my way professionally. I was just sure that I would add a baby to my life and I would “lean in” to the new normal. Then, my Favorite Son was born and nothing has been the same since.

Nothing could have prepared me for the fact that I wanted nothing more than to be with my baby all day. I felt like I was busy dutifully practicing for years, was finally ready to play the big game, and was now being “benched.” 

Even though I was one of the lucky (and yes, privileged) ones who had a mom ready and willing to watch my son, I just could not bear to leave him. Everyone who knew me was shocked that I would even consider the stay-at-home option because I was the woman least likely to ditch her career. I often felt guilty about my ambivalence on this topic.

Did I mention that the SAHM choice was nowhere near financially feasible for us?  I am nothing if not stubborn and I was determined to manifest my new dream. Within a few short months, my husband learned of a new work opportunity that had us leaving the country and moving to the U.K. I didn’t care where we went as long as I could stay home with my baby.

While in the U.K., we had our Favorite Daughter-we like to think of her as our favorite souvenir from our expatriate assignment in England. 

Eventually we returned stateside and I would begin the long journey to reinvent myself professionally. I look back on those years and I pretty much did disappear into  the role of motherhood. What I did not know then that I know now is that motherhood was the making of me.

Everything I know about being a good human, I learned from being a mom.

I learned that our children do not belong to us, but they come through us.

I learned that an effective mom has to check her ego at the door. This is easier said than done.

I learned that we have two shots at childhood-our own and the one we create for our own children. If your own childhood was painful, a lot of personal healing can happen if you are successful at creating a healthy and happy childhood for your own kids. 

I learned that a solid marriage is a major blessing as you navigate the challenge of raising good human beings.

I learned that there is nothing more attractive than a man who is an exceptional father. I still wish more men would figure this out.

I learned that being a good role model for your kids is no joke and sometimes damn inconvenient.

I learned that nothing is more important than raising people I can stand to be around once they are adults (so far, so good). 

I learned that when you impact the life of a child you touch the future and leave a legacy that will last long after you are gone.

I’d like to say that all of these lessons required little or no sacrifice, but that would be a lie. There were a lot of sacrifices. Some were made freely, some begrudgingly. But, in the end it was worth it.

I think back to the young woman that was afraid to be a mom and I think she was really afraid to love this much. On some level, I think I intuitively knew that the day would come when it was time to cut the cord and watch them fly.

 I’ve never been good at goodbyes, but this is a different kind of goodbye. Our lives are intertwined forever, but I know it will be different in the future. In a little more than a year (from when I write this), my Favorite Daughter will fly away and I find myself feeling the strangest emotions.

I’m choosing to focus on this thought-I am excited!

I am excited to see who they will become. Who they will meet. What they will do. How they will change when they go out into the world. Living in my house is like watching two racehorses at the gate chomping at the bit and ready to run their race. I console myself with the knowledge that They. Are. Ready. 

And I pat myself on the back because I. Prepared. Them. Well.

I prepared them for what is coming and I embraced the notion that my job was to prepare them for their path, but not to prepare the path for them.

So go run your race, Favorite Son and Favorite Daughter. I’ll be here when you stumble and I’ll cheer for you when you run a winning race. You can be secure in the knowledge that I am your biggest fan and cheerleader.

I wish I was more confident that I was sending you into a world full of kindness, compassion, and happiness. You two are the arrows that I am sending off to create the kind of world I want to live in. You are my greatest hope for a better place for all of us. My bets are on you two.

What I proved to myself during the MommyYears is that I could change my focus for a while, take on an important new role, and still find myself again when it was time to come up for air. I didn’t disappear, after all.

I’m thinking it’s now time to turn my attention to self-care and reinventing myself for a thriving Second Act. These pages are where I plan to share my journey and find a community of women who are excited about creating an Act 2 that is fulfilling, adventurous, and meaningful. 

The most lasting lesson is the confidence that comes from knowing that my kids growing up is a sign that I succeeded at the hardest and most meaningful job of all-being a mom. Now I know I can do just about anything.
It isn’t almost over, it’s just beginning………..Time to birth a new dream. Join me for the journey at  Act 2 Mom Facebook Community.

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