When my kids were younger, being with them all day was both the hardest and best part of my life. It was mentally taxing. They all needed me at the same time. Knowing I had to get up each morning, change three diapers, three sets of clothes, and keep them safe and happy was the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do.
It was my choice to stay home with them. Their dad, my ex-husband, would have supported me in whatever I’d wanted to do, but staying home with them was something I felt passionately about — and that never changed no matter how many hours I’d cry, feel tapped out, or wanted to run.
However, I needed an escape every now and again. After all, mothers aren’t designed to want to stay with their kids at every waking moment, no matter what anyone thinks. We are humans with other interests, relationships, and passions. Pursuing those things is what makes us better moms.
We all need time away whether it’s to go to work, away for the weekend with our partner or friends, or just an afternoon sitting alone reading without any kids.
But this past year, something in me has shifted. My kids are 17, 16, and 14, and the only thing I want to do is hang out with them. When my friends ask me to meet them for lunch, go shopping, or go away for the weekend, I have zero desire unless it’s their time with their dad and they won’t be home anyway.
If I make an appointment, I try my hardest to schedule it when they are at work or have plans.
The desire to have that physical and mental escape from them has left me, and all I want to do is soak them in.
Every second counts, and I’ve lost interest in doing a lot of things that used to fuel me — because getting time with them during these days, when seeing them is rare, is so important that it makes everything else fall to the bottom of the pile.
I realize this is one of those stages that will come to an end. I know I need a life outside of them, and I do have one. I just prefer, right now, to do my hobbies and plan my social life around them because damn, I don’t have much time left.
They all work, they are going back to school in a few days, and they have friends and hobbies that keep them really busy. Their moments at home with me when we don’t need to be going to the doctor’s office, the dentist, grocery shopping, or getting them something they need are few and far between.
I’d rather be present with them than rushing off to lunch, going to a class, or browsing Target. These are all things that used to get me through the long days of motherhood, and while I’m not sorry I lived my life and took these respites from my kids, I just don’t need those anymore.
My kids are older, independent, spend a lot of time in their rooms, and do their own thing.
It doesn’t feel like a sacrifice to me. It’s intentional; I treasure each second and it’s what’s giving me life right now. Kind of like sipping a Diet Coke through Target alone used to, only this is better.
I’m not sure if this feeling I have, this shift in my mood, is from COVID, from the fact they are getting closer and closer to moving out, or if something is wrong with me.
I’ve often wondered over the past year if it’s depression and if I’m withdrawing from my life too much. I used to crave time with my girlfriends. I made more of an effort to reach out, get together, and find time to leave the house and pursue things like shopping and different hobbies.
But now, I only crave time with my kids. I am content and feel whole. I’m calm and am happy to be with them and don’t have the urge to keep up with a social life like I used to.
I’m happy to get up and workout or hit spin class before they are even awake because that means more time with them.
I’m sure this is all happening because I can see how soon they will be leaving to spread their wings and my time with them is already so much less than it used to be. They are so busy with their lives and that is my break — they are giving it to me whether I want it or not. So, I’m just going to continue to scoop up all the time I can with them while they’re home.
Besides, good friends understand that your friendship may ebb and flow — and my hobbies, and love of browsing Target alone, aren’t going anywhere.
Right now, I’ll spend every second I can with my kids because that’s what I want to do … and that’s reason enough.
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