When I was a young mom, I knew, on some level, that I was on a journey that would end one day. Even though your children will always be yours, they do grow up. And when they do, the path your life has been on changes a bit. It’s inevitable.
Lost in the early childhood years
Back then the busy days of having a house full of young children often looked and felt like an endless road to me. There were days when it seemed all I would ever do would involve bottles, diapers, playdough, crayons, toys, and all the other stuff that fills your life as a young parent. There were days I got lost in it all, days I had trouble seeing myself, but gradually (and oh so quickly) I came to the end of that road and the life I had been barely able to glimpse started to come into focus.
Looking back on it now, I see how it was always rushing up at me so much faster than I was ready for, but I couldn’t see it at the time. It’s hard to really understand what exactly is happening in your life as you’re living it. All I saw was the way the road looked the same, day after day.
Accepting a new path
I’m on a different path now, watching the lives of my children at a bit of a distance, no longer responsible for taking care of their every need. I’m definitely still aware of their needs, but I’ve accepted that I’m no longer what I once was. It was a slow acceptance, one that I fought hard, one that stung terribly as it made itself real to me, but my path had to open up a bit, widen enough to let them step off and onto their own.
It’s like I’m looking at two bridges, feeling like I’m on one of them, clearly able to see the other one, knowing our paths may intersect. I look at that other bridge and I know how it feels to be on it even though I’m not there, no longer living that life. I can’t see the bridges beyond the second one, but I know they’re there too, just like I know there have always been ones behind me too. And ones behind them, for all time. For all the mothers who have come before me.
My place as a mom has shifted in the lives of my children
Mothers have always been on this path, living life as the most important person in her children’s life, and then stepping back to cheer them on as they leave her road and start travelling down their own. Every mother has watched from a distance.
Sometimes I get to step off my bridge, off the road that is now my life. I get to spend time on the other one. I never knew how precious these times would be, but I do now and I’m beyond grateful for every step of the journey I get to travel even though it means I always eventually go back to my own road. That’s just how it should be.
Many years ago I couldn’t see past what was in front of me. Those were days that I never knew I would grow older, never knew my kids would become the age I was when they were little, never knew that I was on a bridge that would allow me to see the lives they would one day lead. I never knew the bittersweetness of it all.
Do I miss the mother I was? I think that will always be a truth I have to embrace, but my bittersweet is heavy on the sweet and light on the bitter. More than anything, I am glad my bridge is within sight of the one my children are now travelling.