The baby is sick. He has a fever, and his mommy doesn’t know what to do for him. It matters not that the baby in question is in his early thirties and I am the mommy who is nearly thirty years older than that; Mommy still worries.
I’ve been reading a lot of “mommy blogs” lately, written by young women who are in the very early years of motherhood with new babies and toddlers and blogs written by mothers with children in elementary and middle school. One theme seems predominant: Raising kids is stressful. The underlying supposition is that once these kids are raised and on their own, the stress will essentially be over.
I agree. Mostly. Trying to juggle orthodontist and doctor appointments, extra-curricular activities, homework monitoring, volunteering, housework, grocery shopping, cooking, quality listening time, and maybe even a job outside the home and still have time for yourself and your spouse seems like an impossible task and is both physically and emotionally draining. I’ve been there, so I get it. I can say, “Cherish these moments because they will vanish before your eyes,” even though some of those moments aren’t worth cherishing.
One day they do grow up and leave home, and the physical exhaustion that comes with motherhood does leave you. Your life is more in balance. You have time for yourself and for your spouse. If you had a good marriage to begin with, it becomes an even better one when the children leave home. You find romance again.
But motherhood doesn’t end when your children aren’t under your wing anymore. You still worry about them, about their health, their job, their marriage, their children, only this time you have no control over any of it. You can’t ground them or talk to their teacher. You can’t send them to bed early. And you can’t order out for pizza, rent some movies and cuddle on the couch with them on a Saturday night, especially if they live far away, like in Michigan or Boston, while you live in Virginia. You can’t sit down with them over a glass of milk and a plate of homemade cookies and find out how their day went or what is really on their mind.
Yes, I read these mommy blogs and I smile because I can picture my life as a young mother, but sometimes I am overcome with a feeling of loss for those days. No, I don’t want to go back and relive that time of my life. Just the thought enervates me. But don’t tell me that the stress of motherhood ends when the children are raised, because I am emotionally drained at times with the longing to be as much a part of their lives again as I was when they were little.