Their preferred cuisine. It’s their favorite tune. Their favorite television program. Which pair of pajamas they most wish to wear. They want to hear the same bedtime story over and over again. What is their best friend’s name? What is the name of their second best friend? Their least favorite topic in school. Favorite quarterback, YouTube sensation, pop artist, or race car driver.
I’m willing to bet the farm that you already know all of these details about your children. You’ll most likely respond swiftly, boldly, and proudly. You’re their mother, thus you should know everything there is to know about your children. You’ve been riding shotgun to them for as long as you can remember, and you’ve seen all of their likes and dislikes grow organically.
You’re never far away. Always.
Mothers know their children personally and deeply, and having that knowledge at your disposal is reassuring and comforting. This indicates that you are still their go-to person.
Until the day comes when you aren’t.
Until one day, they’re messaging their new best friend, and you have no idea who they’re talking to.
Until they start raving about that amazing movie they watched last weekend and you say to yourself, “They went to a movie last weekend?”
Until they need new underwear and socks, and instead of asking you to buy them, they go out and buy them themselves – with their own money. They also buy what they want, not what you want.
Until they ask you to make fish for supper one night, and you’re perplexed, thinking, “Wait, since when do you eat salmon?”
Until one day, when they’re on the phone chatting (flirting?) with someone and won’t tell you who they’re talking to. Perhaps a girlfriend?
Until the pediatrician asks to speak with him alone one day. Is it possible without me?
Until one day, you notice them spending hours with their friends elsewhere and realize they’re probably not at Chuck E. Cheese’s. That is something you must accept.
And all you can think is, who are you now? As you slink back into your well-worn comfortable recliner (the one where you sat with the youngster who once fit perfectly in your arms and you knew every single detail of his entire existence), you listen to all of this new information.
You’ve been thrown into your new world, which is termed “Letting go of your children into the vast, terrifying cosmos,” and you have to do it gracefully.
From now on, you’ll know less and less about the infant with soft chubby skin that you could touch with your fingertips.
Then there’s even less.
I know it hurts to think about it, but knowing them less and less means they’ll be learning more about themselves.
Knowing them less and less means they’re maturing into the grownup you’ve spent the last 18 years of your life raising.
Knowing them less and less indicates you’ve mastered the parenting roller coaster since they now want to ride alone. And you must allow them to do so. It’s a good thing your days of becoming their seat belt are past.
What else happens when you spend less and less time with your children? You gradually gain a better understanding of yourself. You get to re-discover who that woman was prior to being “Mom.” You reclaim a significant portion of your adult identity, the one that existed before you became a mother.
And you’re going to need her back because that kid you’re getting to know less and less? The one who boldly fled your nest? They’ll call her one day, and all they’ll want to know is more and more about her. That person is you. So be prepared, because it’s a fantastic opportunity. I guarantee it.