Inside this post: We worry that our big kids won’t need us anymore, but the truth is, they need us even more, just in a different way.
I secretly worried that once my children grew up, they wouldn’t need me, and all of the closeness and fun times we shared would be a thing of the past.
We did so much together – from mommy-and-me classes to park, pool, beach, and sledding adventures. I drove them to and from school because even though they could take the bus, they liked this more easygoing together-time, and so did I.
All through elementary school we read and snuggled together every night, and I was involved by volunteering in the libraries, lunch programs, and classrooms. We enjoyed the after-school time when it was just us and when they had friends over, making fun snacks, tackling homework, and hanging out.
Even as their schedules picked up in middle and high school, there was still a place for me to share in it all. Cheering them on at wrestling meets and theater shows, dance recitals and cheer competitions. I was trusted to drive their friend group places–and when I was very lucky, to hang out with them and serve as a second mom.
Now, with my young adults, I’m discovering the next phase of the relationship.
We aren’t physically together quite as much as we were when they were little. One is at college and one is starting out in her first job as a teacher. They continue to chart new paths for themselves as they seek what life holds for them. To find what lights up their souls. And I couldn’t be prouder of and happier for them.
I worried that my grown children wouldn’t need me, that it wouldn’t be the same. But the truth, my role hasn’t changed that much.
Marveling at the relationships I now share with my college son and just-out-of-college daughter has erased any lingering doubts.
And I’m reassured of another truth – every little way we love and mother our children, from the moment they’re born, forms a piece of the relationship foundation that we forge with them. Every action is an investment in our future with them.
Do I ever miss the days when they spent more time in my arms than out of them in the world? I’d be lying if I said no.
It was magical to be needed and loved so purely and intensely. Contentment was mine when I nursed and cuddled my babies. Exploring the world through their eyes when they were toddlers and little ones brought a sense of wonder and unique joy to my life.
Their journeys aren’t away from me, so much as they are to new places that will include me in new ways.
You see, we’re connected as much as ever, maybe even more emotionally than physically.
They still need me, just in different ways.
What does this look like?
It looks like phone calls to share the day and say goodnight. And texting for help with how to handle a tricky situation or to ask for cookies to be baked and mailed. It’s staying up in the wee hours of the night talking and providing comfort to an out-of-state college student who is overwhelmed with stress and unable to sleep.
It’s being a partner in some of the adulting milestones, like buying a car and sharing in the stress, decorating their first apartment, and the excitement of finding the right job. Or when they have some free time and want to go on a Target adventure and they can choose any friend to join them, but instead they choose me.
It’s being the one they call first when they’re worried or upset, and when they’re delighted.
Sometimes, it feels like they need us again as they needed us when they were younger. But it’s not so much a need as it is a want, because we can offer assistance that lets them breathe a little easier. When my son was home over the summer and working at a local mini-golf place, I was able to lighten his load by making him breakfast and coffee in the morning before he left just like I used to do before school for many years.
And that’s the beauty of parenting your (almost) grown kids. You can do things “just because” to show you care.
The needing during the big kid and young adult season looks like support, trust, and relationship. It looks like love.
My kids continue to hold my heart and bring joy to life. I’m no longer worried about how much they need me.
I’ve finally learned that they haven’t outgrown me, and they never will.
Because our love for each other has roots that are strong enough to keep us connected even when they branch out in their lives.
What’s more, we not only love each other, we like each other.
They are always my children, and now also my forever friends.
This is a contributed post by Sydnei Kaplan. Sydnei is a mom and wife, blogger, freelance writer, and author of a soon-to-be-released children’s picture book. I strive to help moms navigate all seasons of motherhood and reassure them that parenting evolves but never ends. Find me at Mom in the Moment, and on Facebook and Instagram.
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