Sometimes if I close my eyes really tight, I can take myself back to that time. That precious, precious time. I can feel them in my arms. I can imagine the light pressure of a little head resting on my shoulder and the delicious smell of baby powder and soap. My little babies. So completely oblivious to the world around them, just cuddled into my arms.
Those days will forever be imprinted into my heart and soul.
I think what I loved about that time of parenthood was the utter dependence that those little lives had on me. To them, I was everything. I fed them and I took care of everything they needed. I taught them as they grew and they needed me to survive. There were days that I was exhausted and not sure if I would make it. But we had each other.
I loved that.
I was theirs.
They were mine.
As someone who always struggled with belonging, it was so significant to me to be needed and wanted.
Fast forward to now. Those babies tower over me and look me in the eye. As I stare 16 and 13 in the face this coming year, I have had to face a startling revelation.
I am not enough anymore.
It’s a hard pill to swallow. So distasteful that I want to spit it out. Yet, It’s becoming more and more real each day. Things have changed. Babies grow up. I am no longer their entire world.
How can that be?
It hurts a little. But I am learning not to take it personally. I’m accepting that this new stage isn’t about me.
I’m no control freak but I did love those times when I was in charge of our life. What we did. Where we went. Who we were with. I can’t do that the same way anymore.
I need to start letting go.
I’m learning that I need to say yes, more than I say no. I am reminded that at this stage, friends are everything. I am realizing that the moments that I do have, I have to make them count. I am observing that as I let them spread their wings, it shows them that I trust them. My yes is an affirmation to the things that they value. And when they see that I value what they care about, that ultimately makes us closer. I don’t want to be pushed away, so I make the decision to step back. Just a little bit. And I am seeing that giving them that space is ok, they still come back to me. They still need me but in a different way.
I’ve taken a step back, but I haven’t left the room.
There are still times to draw the line (have you been around teenage boys?) and there are times when I really do know best. But there are also times when I have to trust that everything that has been deposited into their lives has helped them become the individuals that they are. My influence isn’t gone, it’s just woven into their independence. And I cheer them on and pray that their paths and decisions are ones that reflect all that has been given and poured into their lives.
I still look back with longing at the past but I also see the future and all that is can be for them. Yes.
There is a significant moment that I remember when they were just small and learning to interact together. They must have come up with an idea and my son was elected to come and ask me if it was ok. I said yes, and remember him running back to his sister so excited. All I could hear was, “She said yes! She said yes!’ I remember how that warmed my heart, watching them be independent and working together.
Seeing what was possible.
So much is possible.
They are looking even harder now.
I’m trying more to say yes.