From the moment you conceive a child, you feel necessary and important. That unborn child depends on you for nourishment and life. You begin the long process of identifying yourself with that child and understanding that everything you do affects your child. When the child is born, the dependency continues. We are responsible for feeding and cleaning and clothing the child. We fix his hurts when he cries and we give him medicine when he is sick.
When they go off to school, we fix them a healthy breakfast and pack them a lunch to take with them. We make sure that a healthy, or maybe not so healthy, snack is waiting when they get home and prepare a home-cooked meal for dinner. We provide all of their needs as they grow and we teach them to be able to do these things for themselves at the appropriate times.
We do their laundry and keep the house clean. We run them back and forth to school for practices and games. We help them with their homework and we listen when they tell us about their day. If they have a problem with a teacher, we handle it and in the process, show them the proper way to deal with conflict.
When they fight with siblings, we sort it out and come up with a reasonable solution. At least, it is reasonable to us, probably completely unfair to them. We are the calm when life goes a little crazy and we are the crazy when life gets dull. We moderate their wants and needs for them, and in the process, show them how to control their own desires.
As they grow, we grow. As their needs change, we adapt to accommodate their growth. For years and years, everything we do is for them. We even plan our own schedule around theirs. Our hobbies are geared toward them and their interests. Our joys are their joys. We live for their happiness and die for their smiles.
What happens when a mom no longer feels necessary? When the children are suddenly not such children anymore? When they feed themselves and wash themselves and transport themselves and run their own errands? When they no longer want your constant attention and don’t seem to appreciate all that you do?
What happens when you realize that you are no longer necessary, but merely a convenience? I prepare their food, but they can do it themselves. I wash and fold the laundry, but they can do it themselves. I clean the house, but they can do it themselves. Although, not as well as I do. I ask them if they need me to do this or that and they usually say no, they can do it themselves.
Why does being successful as a parent have to mean that I no longer feel necessary?
I should be ecstatic to have raised(mostly) three wonderful human beings. Now I can switch gears and focus on my own interests, right? Why do I still feel guilty when I push them to do the things that they can and should do, but just don’t want to. Why do I feel guilty for not doing the things that I have always done for them and now they need to do for themselves? Why do I feel guilty doing what I want all day and leaving the chores to them? Don’t get me wrong, I still do a lot of work around the house, but things are shifting.
I have to find a new role and it’s a little uncomfortable right now. I guess I’ll just have to pray and lean on God…and eat chocolate.