They lied to me. They said it would get easier when they got older. I suppose it did, physically, but no one told me how absolutely exhausting it would be. No one told me that it would just get harder and scarier. I’ve got REALLY GREAT kids and it still got harder…
When they were little, you worried about ear infections, colic, teething, whether they would only eat canned peaches and saltines forever. Now the worries are bigger and badder and life changing. Decisions they make now matter for the rest of their lives, not just until the next meal that they decide they like to eat.
And now you can’t just post on FB about how frustrated you or what you should do about (fill in blank here), because kid issues now are deeply personal, humbling and potentially embarrassing, and you are friends with your kids on FB, not to mention, 112 of their friends. Do you know how tedious it is to make a list of who to block from seeing certain posts? It’s just not worth it. So you just worry about it and pray about it alone. The thing is, there are other mothers out there who have been there and done that. The problem is there aren’t “Mommy & Me” groups for mothers of 17 year olds to sit in a circle with and talk and cry together. Who has time for that anymore???
Life is now lived in the mini van. The calendar is not just filled with your engagements and appointments but those of your children. And they don’t always work with your calendar. In fact, they often make plans without ever even consulting you. So now you have to figure out how to get who where and when. Who gets the car and are you ok with not having it for the next 7 hours? It just gets so complicated when everyone has their own life. It was so much simpler when everyone’s life was your life.
Now you have a life of your own and you have to decide what you’re going to do. And everyone wants to know. They ask, “So what are you going to do now that the boys are grown up?” I don’t know??? I just spent the last 20 + years doing exactly what I wanted to do when I grew up. I didn’t have time to think about what I would do next. Geez, I guess in my head it felt like I would be doing this until I was dead. If you thought people gave you “that look” when you were a stay-at-home mom with little ones, you should see the look they give you when two are off to college. What profound and meaningful thing are you going to do to contribute to society now? And catching up on 20 years of scrapbooking doesn’t count. To be fair, many of your friends have gone back to work. They had to because kids get WAY more expensive the older they get. Diapers and formula are nothing compared to auto insurance and college text books. You pray they don’t get any tickets because their fast-food minimum wage job won’t cover the increase in their insurance payments. Did you know that they stop giving you that tax credit when they turn 17 or that they expect you to take out loans for your kids to go to college? Yeah, neither did we.
So, now you’re left with being a wife. Not that you haven’t been a wife for all these years, it’s just that your husband had to share you. Now he has you all to himself again. He’s been looking forward to this for a long time. But you have to figure out how to spend your Friday nights now that everyone is off in their own directions and they can be activities that don’t involve Chuck E Cheese or animated movies or games that don’t involve reading. You are dating and falling in love again. Learning about what you enjoy doing together and doing it. Date nights still involve talking about the kids though. I suppose that will never change???
What do we do now? I don’t know? I’ve never done this before and no one talks about it…
First, the answer is always Jesus, right? Yup, it is. Spend time in the Word every day. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) This verse never made sense to me until my kids got to be teenagers. When they were little I thought, who has time to pray continually? When they were older I found myself praying for them ALL THE TIME. Especially once they can drive a car and date. Pray for your kids. Pray for you and your husband. Pray with your husband. “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) He loves you but remember, God loves your kids even more than you do.
Have friends. Real friends. You don’t need many, just a few that you can really trust with your heart and your struggles and that you know will pray for you. It’s helpful to have friends in the same stage you are but possibly even more helpful to have friends who have already been through it. Have coffee or lunch, go shopping together. Be real and open and honest.
Hang in there. God knows exactly what He wants for you, and your kids, next. “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ “ (Jeremiah 29:11) Know that even when you feel all alone, you aren’t. God is always there with you and millions of moms have walked the same road you are on before you and know how you feel. Just ask ‘em…