This parenting gig is the hardest job in the world bar none. I know that those without children will contest it and those with children are all nodding their heads in unanimous agreement. Nothing prepares you for it; you aren’t really ever ready. And we all have heard our parents say it, but it all goes by too incredibly fast. It is a whirlwind blur of emotion, chaos, and diaper changes.
I have heard moms talk about a time in their motherhood career when they hit the sweet spot. The time when all of their kids reach a point of semi-independence.
I guess that could be an accurate and positive description, but for me I feel like I have been benched and from this point on until they are really leaving the nest I am always going to be on the sidelines. Maybe instead of being benched, it’s more like being a coach. While, my influence is significant, like any great coach; I am just that, a coach. I am aiding them through life from the sidelines and as my oldest hits these pre-teen years, only when they want to listen.
At the park this past week, I watched them play on their own. I cleverly packed snacks and drinks and sat next to the stash so they would have a reason to check in. And through three parks they would stop for a snack and then occasionally say, “Hey mom, look what I can do.” I mostly saw them walking away from me. That is what we moms do, we give them all the tools to walk away from us out into the world.
All the kids are in school now. They all have a world separate from home. They do and experience things I hear or even don’t hear about second-hand. They interact with many different people and I can only hope that they are kind, well-mannered, politely assertive, and true to themselves.
I am not sure this is the sweet spot in parenting. In fact, I am pretty darn sure this is the hardest part of parenting. Have I done enough that they will take what my husband and I have taught them and use that out in the real world. Did I make them feel like I was a secure, safe refuge where they can come to me for anything and I will stand beside them while they see their way through it? Did we set the example for them on how to choose the best kind of friends? Will they feel strong and secure enough in themselves to not cave to peer pressure?
This is definitely the most difficult part of parenting; this time when they venture out into the world without you. I know we still have a ton of time together, and they are home every night, so I may not be completely benched; and maybe it’s not always like being the coach, maybe it’s more like centerfield, but none-the-less it is still a peripheral, supporting position.
And of course, I will take that position and centerfield the heck out of it to be near my kids and help them continue to grow. To be so grateful that they are still under my roof. To be grateful they are healthy and thriving. To be grateful that they still want me to tuck them in or hug them or hear about their day.
And I know I have time, even if it is moving faster than a speeding bullet, I still have time with them. This sweet spot if you will, is just preparing me for when they go off on their own completely. A time that I am terrified for, because all I ever wanted to be was a mom. Through grace I have that gift and I relish it. It is just speeding by and I have begun to wonder about who I will be when they are on their own? Who will I be when they are grown?
I will take the view from centerfield or the sidelines or the bench over no view at all, but I think the sweet spot was when they were right up on the bench with me; in my lap even, curled in tight and close. That was the sweet spot. Not that I don’t love every stage, I do. There is just something about that point in time when you know you have such a better handle on shielding them from the world. Keeping them safe and sheltered.
From the bench,