On the Birthday of My Oldest Child

 

IMG_4065I was never one of those moms who grieved their kids growing up. I thought it was great.

I didn’t want them to be babies forever. Or to be toddling around the house indefinitely. I didn’t want to stand on the sidelines of wet soccer fields with a cold cup of coffee watching confused kids kick the ball to each other on Saturday mornings that seemed to last for months. I liked being the mother of little kids but only because of its impermanence.

I love that my kids are grown up. And I say that without the least bit of angst.

Oh, I look back and I remember them as little kids. How I carried them everywhere, how I stroked their cheeks to calm them, laid on the couch with their little selves asleep on my chest, sang to them songs I made up and that no one else heard. Our private songs.

I remember all that and am glad for that time. But I don’t miss it.

I wanted them to grow up into people. Strong, smart, decent people. I wanted them to have their own lives that didn’t involve me. I wanted other people to love them. I wanted them to love other people more than me.

I don’t understand mothers who grieve every step of their children’s growing up. I don’t get the tears at the kindergarten door or the angst at the driver’s license test. The weeping at graduation baffles me. The whole point of being a parent is to raise kids, not keep them as pets.

To those moms who mourn every torn teddy bear stowed in the attic, I say this: each time of life is wonderful in its own way. No time is more precious than another.

Life is a necklace with a lot of beautiful beads.

Jan and Elizabeth

 

6 thoughts on “On the Birthday of My Oldest Child

  1. Reblogged this on Red Said What? and commented:
    RED’S WRAP SAID WHAT?…On The Birthday of My Oldest Child

    Jan’s insightful and beautiful philosophy about motherhood leaves me torn.

    My head tells me to raise independent children who grow up to “love other people more than me,” but my selfish heart tugs in the other direction. I struggle with the “letting go” part of parenthood. I cry at milestones and do too much for Bubbe and Skootch every day in between.

    Come to think of it, such ambivalence probably explains why I still make my 10 year-old’s bed and wipe my 6 year-old’s backside.

    Aah, the conundrum that is a mother’s love. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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  2. Jan

    (Catching up on my reading today, rather than catching up on work.)
    I love this, because it’s so well said and, of course, because it mirrors how I feel. I’m still waiting on one of my kids, though.

    Like

  3. I love to see your thinking and feeling in your writing–maybe because it often is so much like mine. I was impatient for the next stage every time, and every time they moved into one I almost instantly started missing the last one. But not for long. Right now I have grandma envy, partly because I think I now could just relish what is and not wish so much for what will be. But that’s about losing the burden of responsibility and replacing it with straight-up, unencumbered cherishing. I think: who knows how I’ll actually be if and when I get there? Anyway, thanks always for sharing yourself this way.

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