Sunday, June 8, 2014

Motherhood melancholy

Yesterday I was seeing one of my patients for his 2 year old check up. This child, who was an adorable baby, has turned into THE CUTEST little boy. The first thing he did when I sat down to talk to his mom was take off his shorts and diaper. Then he sat on the exam room couch. He took his mother's blue sunglasses and put them on, and then sat back and relaxed. "Are you all set now?", I asked. "I want milk," he said. His mom gave him a sippy cup with milk and he sat there sipping, as if he was pondering the meaning of life. Buck naked, blue sunglasses, drinking milk. I mean REALLY. I thought I was going to die, it was just so cute. I'm so lucky I work in pediatrics. I have encounters like this all day long. Of course, I do see those 2 year olds who are so terrified of me that they scream during the entire visit. So there's that...

Knowing that I have a 14 and a 16 year old, the patient's mother asked me, "do your boys still want to be with you?"

March 2014 Anna Maria Island

I stopped and thought about that question before answering her. I told her that I don't believe they mind being with me, but that they would rather be with their friends. Because that is the hard truth about motherhood.

Prior to becoming a mother, I had always been a runner. This type A personality that I have been blessed with needs an outlet. And while I was able to juggle the demands of motherhood and a part-time career, I learned after becoming a mom that I needed my outlet--running--even more than ever before. I didn't do races when the boys were little, it just wasn't a priority for me. But I always got in my runs--at least 4-5 time per week. Because my husband left for work before 6 am, for several years those runs were done at 430am. Me, the newspaper delivery men, and the skunks. But I did it. That hour on the road was my me time, the only time of day that I was alone. It was so important and I made sure those runs happened. It actually worked out well, since my boys went to bed at 8--I didn't stay up much later than that!



I never complained about having to get up early to do get my runs in. I actually looked forward to them. What I believed is that being able to run, to have my me time, made me a better and more patient mom. I had more energy to play with my boys. I wanted to be able to keep up with them--I didn't want to be one of those moms who sits on the bench and watches them. I wanted to be in there. And I have been.



But all of a sudden, or so it seems, I look at my boys, and they're big. Taller than me, my oldest has also passed up my husband. Oh, and that yummy baby smell? Replaced by a not so pleasant male odor. Which they was away with Axe shower gel. That smooth baby skin is now sprouting hair. Sigh....

They are hardly ever around. One minute they're home, the next minute, the door slams before I can even say goodbye and be careful, and they're gone. All the free time I longed for when they were little is mine. I read and finish books before they need to go back to the library. Phone conversations with my sister go uninterrupted. I go to the store alone and come home with only the things that were on my list. I can run whenever I want. I can go on a 30 mile bike, and not think twice about it.

But there's a price you pay for that free time. I miss those little boys. When they needed me--sometimes it was overwhelming! Not that my boys don't need me now, but it is usually to drive them somewhere or give them money. Hugs? "Disturbing", my oldest proclaims. Forget kisses! I always tell them I love them when they leave for school, but I don't get a response anymore. Oh, and they know everything! Apparently, I don't.

Is this wrong?

Friends who have older children tell me that they come around again, once they leave home for college. Yikes! I don't even want to think about that!

I'm so glad I have a passion, an interest outside of my family. Something for me. Running has always gotten me through so many rough times in my life. And I believe, running will get me through this too. Letting go is so hard, but it is part of life. I'm starting to pull away a little too, I think--running more races, getting more involved in the running community. I could throw myself into my career, but that isn't what drives me. Running is my motivator. Running has always made me better at everything I do.

“But kids don't stay with you if you do it right. It's the one job where, the better you are, the more surely you won't be needed in the long run.” ― Barbara Kingsolver, Pigs In Heaven

16 comments :

  1. When Thing One was maybe 2 or 3 she was sitting in the top part of the shopping cart yakking away at me incessantly (as was the norm) and the checkout lady said, "don't wish these years away, I know they're hard but they fly by" and fly by they do. While I'm not quite at the stage where they don't need me (well the 8 year old kind of does) things have changed dramatically from when they were little. I think the biggest key to life after little ones is, like you said. having a passion outside of your kiddos. I've seen women neglect this and it's really tough.

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    1. There are plenty of evenings now, when my husband and I are sitting on the couch after dinner, watching TV. He falls asleep and starts snoring. And I think, is this it? Sigh.

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  2. Wow. That was a little depressing. :) My kids are 10, 8 and 5 and they still constantly need me. I do appreciate them being little and feel like I want to freeze them at this age, but at the same time they drive me absolutely nuts sometimes. It's mostly the fighting, whining and complaining. But I don't know if that will go away? My husband and I were just discussing how nice it would be to go on a bike ride or run together. It's literally been about 11 years since we did that.

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    1. I know exactly how you feel...but when they're big, the free time you get can be a little bittersweet....

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  3. I don't even want to think of those years yet...although being able to jump on my bike or go for a run any time I want does sound rather appealing right now!

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  4. Bittersweet is the perfect word.

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    1. It really is! I seem to be using it more and more lately.

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  5. Wendy! I loved this post. With a 13-yr old son, it totally rang true. He's still a sweetheart and loving toward me, but yeah, he'd rather be with his friends and he is constantly on the go. I think about my kids going off to college and it makes me so, so sad. But you're right, we are both so lucky to have a passion in our lives to help make it all a bit easier. XO

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    1. Pretty tough, isn't it? Yesterday I told them they have to eat dinner with their father and me 3x/week during the summer. No protests from either of them. As much as they want to be with their friends, I'm glad they get it.

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  6. What a tear jerking post but yes, it is so true. I try to cherish each moment with my daughter knowing she will pull away. It is part of growing up. I know it will happen. I pulled away from my Mom but yes, I went back. Some days I just wish I could move in with my Mom and pester her all day! She would grow tired of me and my craziness but we love each other. On that note, I should give her a call today and chat!

    P.S. Yes, I got myself a coach! The same one I went to at the end of the year last year. He keeps me focused and adds a layer of accountability that I need.

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  7. Yay for you! Sounds like your coach is a good fit. I'm looking forward to following your journey!

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  8. That's such a great post-gave me a little tear in my eye. My 14 yo son is taller than us all and seems like he and my 17 yo daughter pull farther away everyday in a good way I guess. They are turning into adults and finding self confidence of their own but I will miss how their younger years and can't bear the thought of them leaving one day. But that's life of a mom I guess.

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  9. Thank you for putting my frustrations into perspective. I know it goes way to fast, and I don't wish these years away, but I find myself saying, "it will be easier" when they are older. But the challenges just change I guess. Great post!

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    1. Thanks Sue! After coming home from a great weekend with lots of togetherness, I'm feeling so much better! Enjoy them as much as you can.

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