I often identify myself as being a single mom of three children. Never mind that those three children include two that are now adults. They are still my children and will always be no matter how old they get. I have found however, that my worth as a mother has become more apparent as they have gotten older (and wiser).
My middle child, Asa is 21 and moved away for the first time earlier this year. I didn’t think he was ready to go. He thought otherwise. He declared that he was a “man” and it was time for him to get out and live and be independent. So off he went to North Dakota to work for his uncle in construction. He didn’t call for a couple weeks – I didn’t call him because I felt he needed his space away from “Mom.” All seemed well until I received a call in the middle of the night. He was in the hospital needing immediate surgery for appendicitis. His uncle was there with him, but he wanted his mom. It was heartbreaking for me as I listened to my son sob uncontrollably because he was so scared, in pain and I was not there. I could not get there to help him and figured that by the time I could, he would be on the road to recovery. So I talked him down out of his hysteria so that he was in a better frame of mind by the time they took him to surgery. It was a “Wow” moment when I realized how much he needed ME! My laid back, slower than molasses, “whatever” child needed me.
My oldest, Caitlin is 23 and has just become a new mom! I just spent some time at her place, helping her with her new baby (my first grandchild!). I was at the hospital when my grandson Tyler was born (by the way he is the cutest little baby in the world, but of course, I am a bit biased). I spent the night at the hospital as she had a C-section and wanted to be there for her. Later I went back to her place to shower and rest. I told her I would be back at the hospital the next day. A little after 8 a.m. I received a text from her, “When are you going to be back?” I had planned on later that day, but she needed me right then. When I got to the hospital it was clear that she had been crying – she was in pain, Tyler wasn’t taking to breastfeeding, he had been screaming most of the night, she didn’t know what to do. Even though the nurses had been there, she needed her mom. Wow! She needed ME! The sullen defiant child that yo-yoed back and forth needed me.
I spent a week helping Caitlin with Tyler – teaching her, reassuring her, loving her. When it was time for me to leave, she burst into tears. She didn’t want me to go. She needed me.
I had to leave however, because my youngest child, Jake who is 13 needed me back at home. His dad (my ex-husband) was staying at my house to take care of Jake while I was gone. Jake and his dad have not had a lot of time together. It has mostly been camping and fishing trips during summer months. But it worked out that his dad could care for Jake so that I could care for Caitlin.
Jake has special needs and I was afraid that it would be a difficult week with my being gone. I did get a call from the school to get Jake back on track once. But then everything seemed to be fine – until I got back. Then Jake was sullen and angry and having meltdowns – and extremely rude to me. Everyone said he had done great while I was gone, no anger problems, no problems at school, he did what he was supposed to do without complaint, etc. So why the hell was he acting up with me? It kind of deflated my ego a bit.
The next day as I was telling him he needed to clean up the video games in the livingroom, I realized what it was. I was the one that made him accountable. Being with his dad had been kind of like a vacation even though he had to go to school. I was the one that insisted he clean up after himself, scoop the dog’s poop in the yard, take his pills on time, eat so he wouldn’t get so hungry he would have a meltdown, take a bath and wash his hair etc. No wonder he was upset when I came home!
I also think that part of it was that I am the one he CAN have a meltdown around and still love him. If he climbs to some kind of hysteria, I can talk him down. If he doesn’t understand something, I can explain it. He needs ME.
This last bit didn’t feel as good as with my other two kids because of the negativity involved. But it made me realize that I am on the right track. It is my job to be a parent, not just a friend. And by being a parent, my kids know that they can trust me and that I have their best interests in mind – even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time. It isn’t until later, when that separation exists do they realize it. So for now, even though it is tougher with Jake, I just have to remember that two out of three ain’t bad – and eventually the last one will feel like he needs me too.