For 23 years - twenty. three. years. - nearly every decision I have made has in some way required that I consider my children.
When do they need to eat?
be dropped off somewhere?
Does the decision conflict with something I'm already doing for them?
Is there a sitter available?, or
Will they be home alone too long?
Will this help/hinder their education?
Is this a safe/wise/positive activity for them?
This doesn't even begin to touch all the decisions I've made based on their emotional and spiritual needs.
I don't know how to make a decision that doesn't require me to think about my kids.
What are we doing tomorrow? Whatever we want - it doesn't matter.
What is for dinner? Whatever we want - it doesn't matter.
What movie, tv show, leisure activity? Whatever we want - it doesn't matter.
Who do we want to invite over? Whoever we want - it doesn't matter.
One would think this would make me happy. It does not.
And I know it's not really even true - we have many responsibilities and we don't get to dictate our own schedules simply because there are no kids at home - but, in my currently psychotic mind, it feels like it doesn't matter with them gone. And here's what I think it boils down to for me...
I don't know how to not be needed.
Most of us get up, move and breathe, each day based on who we believe we are. For 23 years, without a hesitation or blink of an eye, the answer has been, "I'm a mother."
I watched a sweet, young mother at the restaurant we all went to after church. Her baby was screaming his precious little head off as she patiently tried to get his food for him. I couldn't see her face at the time, but I remembered...
I remember vividly how hard that was. You're exhausted from the morning of getting little ones ready for church, messing up schedules, rushing breakfast. You go to church - they miss their naps and then you go out to eat. Most of the time, it's just work to get through lunch with hungry, tired babies.
I watched my young mother friend and had to fight off the urge to just start crying. (And not for her, or not for the same reason as she may have wanted to cry.)
I missed it - being needed.
I know. I'm sick.
And yes, I know, I'm still a mother. But that is not the sole reason for my existence anymore. I don't know what to do with that. I'm sure there is some sick, co-dependent part of me that needed someone to need me - all the time. But, apparently, we've done our job at least passably well, and they seem to be able to function as adults without me orchestrating every event.
It is as it should be. We've worked ourselves out of a job.
So now what?
So it begins -- a new day and the journey to figuring out who I am after my kids don't need me to take care of them every day, day in and day out.
What is my purpose now?
All sarcasm aside, God has placed some deep passions in my heart over the last few years and I really am excited to see what it is that He has planned in those areas. I'm ready to move on to this next "career" and looking with expectancy for what it's going to bring.
But, just be prepared - I'm not a big fan of change and this is hard. So if you see me sitting in a corner, watching you with your little ones and I'm falling apart... just walk on by. I'll get over it soon, I'm sure. (At least that's what my mother tells me. :) )
Y'all pray that my sweet, patient husband still loves me at the end of this adjustment period. :)
And if you're reading this and you've survived this transition, feel free to post some benefits that I can look forward to when I stop being a basket case. Thanks!