You Never Stop Being a Mom

Why didn’t someone tell me, when John and I were planning to start a family, that once you’re a parent, you’re always a parent? I guess I knew that intuitively but didn’t really think about it. I thought parenting would get easier as time moved on, but I’ve found that it never stops. You just go through different stages as your children grow.

When you’re a young parent, you focus on getting through each day…changing diapers, feeding your baby, getting all the requisite shots, finding the best daycare (if you have to work while your children are young, and most women I know don’t consider it a choice), spending time with your little one(s), and somewhere amid all that, trying to stay connected to your spouse.

Then come the elementary school years, and the activity ramps up. There’s organized sports, parent-teacher conferences, checking to be sure your child’s homework gets done, learning to communicate with the sometimes antiquated school system (it seems that ours was stuck in the 1960s at times), volunteering to help with field trips, taking refreshments to school on special days, planning birthday parties, arranging music lessons or other enrichment activities for your child, organizing your days and weekends around your child’s/children’s activities, and oh yes, trying to work in some family time and religious education along the way. I remember fondly our time in Girl Scouts, the few camping trips we took as a family (our son was always afraid of bears and couldn’t sleep well), the times we stopped at waterfalls and other natural sights while we were on road trips, our trips to the beach, going to the Smithsonian and many other museums and marveling at dinosaur skeletons and historical and art miscellanea, reading books about dinosaurs (Daniel went through a dinosaur phase from about age 3 through third grade), playing with toy bulldozers in our tiny front yard (I had to learn how to play like a boy), taking family walks with our springer spaniel in tow (me pushing the stroller with Julie, Daniel riding his bike ahead of us, John lagging behind–we were spread out over a block), visits to nearby parks (Centennial Park and the ever-famous Dragon Park), American Girl dolls (we only bought one) and reading those wonderful books, and so forth.

Then came middle school. Daniel spent his whole 8th grade year, it seems, on the couch. He was growing so fast that he was tired all the time…or playing video games. In retrospect, I wish I’d given him more stringent limits on the video games. John tried to tell me…but he was immersed in his business and didn’t have a whole lot of extra time.

Julie, meanwhile, was in her last year of elementary school and then middle school. John and I stayed busy chauffeuring both of our children to different schools and just generally trying to keep up with all the paperwork at school, not to mention fairly hectic schedules of our own.

High school. What a blur. Daniel had a couple of blips in high school but managed to finish with a diploma from Hillsboro High School, just about a month after his peers. We celebrated with a ceremony in our church’s family life center. Daniel, the child I was ready to send off to college, opted to stay at home for two years and go to the community college while he tried to figure out what he wanted to study. John and I adjusted to his living at home. He worked delivering pizza while he attended college and continued doing that when he transferred to Middle Tennessee State University. We were so proud when he graduated in December 2009 … he managed to keep his Hope Scholarship for 4 1/2 years.

Julie, meanwhile, chose to go to college 400 miles from home, to a small Methodist school in Jackson, Mississippi (Millsaps College). I was not quite ready to let her go that far away, but it was good for both of us. John and I kept the road hot traveling to Jackson to see her in Millsaps Singers, Chamber Singers, a play, and her junior and senior recitals.

Daniel moved out of our house in January 2013 (after moving back home following college graduation). YAY. We had one child launched.

Now Julie is getting ready to head off to Spain for the adventure of her life. I have mixed feelings. I am so excited for her opportunity to live abroad and learn about another culture. I am envious, in a way, because I studied Spanish in college and didn’t have the same opportunity to live where I’d be forced to speak the language.

This past week when Julie fell in our front yard and sprained her ankle, I worried about her. I thought, “Well, this is a dress rehearsal for her living alone.” My instinct was to come swooping home and take care of my “little” girl, but I just coached her on how to take care of herself. Her sweet daddy went out and bought an Ace elastic bandage for her (Daniel had the only one we’d had before). Daniel brought the crutches we’d loaned him to his job, and Julie & I stopped by to pick them up on the way home from getting her ankle X-rayed.

So, this whole summer has been an exercise in preparing myself to be a mom from a distance. I know I will worry about my independent little chick as she spreads her wings. My first concern is how to know when she’s gotten to Spain safely, as we will be out of town. She’s nervous about clearing customs and whether she has enough time between flights at Chicago O’Hare. We’re both nervous about how the whole money thing will work. She’s researching all that and getting her “ducks in a row” to prepare for living in a foreign country.

Meanwhile, I am like the humpback whale in this photo. I’m going under the surface for a while, but I suspect that I will resurface from time to time for air … and to make my mysterious whale (mom) sounds from a distance.Image

6 thoughts on “You Never Stop Being a Mom

  1. Yeap!!! It never ends!! It’s ironic too because my oldest (28) still lives with us because he has autism (very high functioning, but still…). The ironic part is, it appears to us sometimes that the other two (now 24 and 26) seem to need us more than he does! LOL! Enjoyed that, but yes, it never ends! πŸ™‚ …and you know what? Who would want it to end? I love it and the only way to stop it is a way that you would not like to see…revel in the love and joy of it all!

    • I agree, sometimes it seems that our young adults need us more than ever. It’s scary, being an adult and having to take responsibility for one’s life. My daughter is realizing that it is up to her whether she succeeds. I have no doubt that she will, but I remember the feeling when I was first on my own, 300 miles away from my parents. At least I could pick up a phone and call them to ask about a recipe or just when I needed to talk to them. With our daughter being in Spain, it won’t be quite so convenient.

      Wishing you the best as you continue the journey of motherhood.

      • Thanks…you too. πŸ™‚ Honestly, you’re a stronger mom than me…having my middle son in Orlando for a couple of years was a LITTLE hard but I knew my niece was there so I didn’t worry (literally a couple of miles away and she’s about 15 years older). And the two youngest now live in Houston and Dallas (we’re like the Bermuda Triangle of Texas–Dallas, Houston, San Antonio!! LMAO!!) which is only 3 and 4 hours away. I’d probably not be as brave if one of them suddenly said they were headed overseas…I’m pretty darn sure I’d worry all the time! Not that I’d be justified, just because I’m me! πŸ™‚

  2. Love this, Anne! I’m in the midst of wondering how my mom role will change after my only child marries in just a few short weeks. And that “gaining a son” mantra…wondering what I’m supposed to do with that.

  3. My oldest Son is going on 28. I have found that you never stop being a Mom, no matter how old they are. My youngest is 25 and he still needs me sometimes just to be there.
    When they are sick you never stop worrying. A Mom forever. ME

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