"You can't let your children become your whole life."
That's what people used to say to me.
They meant well, I'm sure. What they meant was "you are young" and "you should get an education" and "you need to work" and probably a million other things. I listened. I understood.
I worked. I got my education. I dated. I fell in love. I got married. I did all the things to ensure that I would continue to have a life one day when these two small people grew up and went away and had their own lives.
What I didn't get is...all those things didn't really matter.
I mean, they did. They do. Working and getting a degree and being in love are all good things in my life. It's just they all pale in comparison to who I really am.
If I am ever asked to talk about myself, the first thing out of my mouth is always "I have this son and daughter..." They are, by far, the most interesting thing about me. The most important thing about me. They are literally the only people I feel I could not survive without.
I guess it's no wonder that the thought of them turning eighteen, being grown-ups, filled me with a quiet dread. For the last several years.
Then? They turned eighteen and nothing happened.
I mean, okay, we had a nice dinner and my daughter and I went on our first ever girls weekend together and we laughed and talked about when they were babies and it was nice. Then the next day I went back to work and they went back to school and...
I was still their mom. They still asked me what was for dinner that night, still wanted my advice on how much of their part-time job earnings should be set aside that week, still had to be reminded to take the recycling to the recycling center. Nothing was any different.
Will it be different? No doubt and sooner than I wish. From the day they were born we've been evolving. We are constantly different. We have to adapt. I laughed so hard the other night when my husband grumpily asked me why our daughter was not in bed and I had to say, kindly, "Jason. It's nine-thirty. She's eighteen." He forgets sometimes. I try to.
They'll need to talk to mom about relationships, about children, about careers, about where life is taking them. They'll need someone to laugh with and talk to. They'll always love my killer lasagna, my chocolate chip cookies, and my hugs.
Different yes, but different isn't bad. It's just different.
There is a terrible lack of resources for moms of older kids. There are so many mommy blogs that talk about the terrible twos and first steps and kindergarten, but so few that talk about empty nests and how it feels the first time your baby drives away in a car without you in it, and applying for financial aid, and praying that someday your precious child will meet someone worthy of them. We are still moms though, and that will never change. We still want what is best. One day you look at your son and realize he's a man, you look at your daughter and she's the woman you hope to grow into someday. One day we wake up and they are old enough to vote, to get married, to fight in a war, but our hearts? Oh our hearts feel the same as the day their little squishy bodies were placed in our arms for the first time. The love, the all-encompassing, over-powering love we feel never changes. Never, ever.
I'll always be mom.