I've Spent Most of My Life Obsessed With My Children -- Bad Idea

I just sent my eldest off to college, and now I realize that I've spent too much of my life obsessed with my children. They say being a mom is the hardest job you will ever have, so what happens when it's no longer the full-time job you have held for 18 years? 


I know once you have kids you never stop being a mom. I can point to many people I know with "kids" over the age of 18 who still fret and worry about them as much as they did when their kids were learning to walk. But once they go off to college and leave you it's different. You want them to go out into this great big world and make their way and get on with this business of living.

I just wasn't prepared for how sending my eldest off to school made me suddenly panicky about my own place in this world. My own mortality. What the hell have I done with my life? 

More from The Stir: Life Can Be Fulfilling Even If You Aren't a Mom -- Yes, Really

I have a wonderful career that I consider fulfilling and inspiring. I have a husband whom I adore and whom I also consider my best friend. I have a few kids who won't be attending college for a good seven years. But we all know how fast time goes, especially when it comes to kids growing up. One minute you are changing diapers and the next you are reminding them to use condoms in addition to another reliable form of birth control. I'm not ready for this. Any of this. I'm not ready to let go and I'm not ready to see where that letting go leaves me. 

Of course I don't want my kids living at home forever. I'm excited to see what they do with their lives. I just have no idea what to do with mine. I'm not quite experiencing empty nest syndrome yet, but I'm getting a glimpse of what that will be like. I know I'll probably feel differently when that time actually comes and I send the last one on his merry way.

Maybe I'll be all into the idea of having an empty house and taking up hobbies, and maybe I'll buy a micro-pig that I can dress up in baby clothes. Maybe I'll travel and learn to salsa dance with my husband and write a novel and take up golf. Or maybe I'll do what I'm doing now after the first one is gone, sighing a lot and crying spontaneously and trying to figure out exactly how the time went by so fast. 

As much as I appreciate those who are child-free by choice, I didn't go that route. I had babies and I loved those babies, those toddlers, those moody pubescent kids, and those terrible teens. Being a mom was the most fun I have had in my life.

The hardest I have ever laughed. The heart-swelling joy that threatened to burst from my chest. The lazy afternoon naps with one of my kids' warm breath on my neck, their hand finding my face while they slept. What it felt like when they ran up and hugged me fiercely with tiny little arms after I had been away for a mere hour ... My life has been made up of these moments, these short, fleeting, irreplaceable moments. And oh how they tick by, so fast I can almost witness them. They are going, they will be gone. I just need to figure out how to fill all the gaps left by those moments when I am alone and older, my house quiet and empty. 

I guess seven years is enough time to sell my husband on the idea of a baby pig. 


Image via © CI2/Cavan Images/Corbis

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