So it's Christmas. This is a day to be with family. It seems fitting that I write about a very special member of my family. My oldest son, Brian.
As a little girl, I always knew that one day, I’d grow up, get married and have children.
What I didn’t know was that I’d have so many.
The day my eldest son was born, I was complete. Looking at his face, I found my purpose in life. I knew I was created to be his mom, and I knew I’d spend the rest of my years making sure he lived the best life possible.
Since then, a few more children have come along. (When I say a few, I mean six.) I spend day and night caring for them, chauffeuring them from one event to the next, cooking, cleaning, buying things for them and making sure they’re happy. Sure, I get a little tired—actually, I get exhausted. Yet every night, I go to bed with a smile on my face because of my babies.
However, one day not too long ago, I woke up and realized my son was graduating high school!
Where did the last eighteen years go?
I still have no idea how the time passed so quickly. One day he’s a newborn asleep in my arms, the next he’s a grown man joining the Army. I kept telling myself, “My firstborn’s leaving the house, moving on and creating a life of his own. Isn’t this what I’ve been preparing him for? So this is great, right?” But as the tears kept filling my eyes, I knew the real question was, “Why am I so sad?”
I think I might have been the proudest, most excited, happiest and simultaneously saddest mom on the planet the day he left for boot camp. All of these emotions kept coming at me, overwhelming me and leaving confused and drained of energy. How was I going to deal with my son leaving? The process turned out to be one of trial and error.
First, I complained to my husband. I complained to my friends. I basically complained to anyone who would listen. Everyone was very supportive. But there came a point when I realized I had to pull myself together. I had six more babies to take care of, after all!
So I decided to take action. I started giving myself daily pep talks. I’d tell myself that my husband and I did a fantastic job raising our son, and thanks to us, he’s able to create a future for himself, one of his own choosing.
The pep talks made me feel good about myself as a mother. But there was something that they didn’t address: how I felt about myself as a woman. No matter how confident you are, I suspect many mothers find the realization they have a child who’s an adult a very hard pill to swallow.
I suddenly felt a burning desire to make myself pretty. I’d spent so many years looking after my children and helping them develop, I’d put my own development on the back seat. And that’s what brought me to the most satisfying solution of all: shopping!
First, I bought some new jewelry. I experimented with different necklaces, earrings, charms and bracelets until I found a style that truly felt right. Next, I bought some new outfits to go with my accessories. And suddenly, I started feeling better.
Of course, most men will probably roll their eyes and say, “Yeah, chicks always feel better after a shopping spree.” But there’s more to it than that.
I believe that for me, investing some time, attention and money in myself allowed me to discover the woman I am now. I’m not a young mother of a newborn child, nor am I a senior citizen in my twilight years. What I am is a proud, loving, capable and beautiful woman with a myriad of facets that make up my personality and character. And my new jewelry helps me express some of those facets.
Now, I focus on my other children. I try to make sure I spend time with each of them and truly enjoy each moment. I know they’ll all leave one day, so I don’t want to rush through life. As for my son, I write to him at least three times a week. Even if he can’t reply immediately, it makes me feel connected to him.
I’ve also created an “after the kids move out” bucket list. Every time I think of something I’d like to do if I had more free time, I add it, for example places I’d like to visit, activities I’d like to try or things I’d like to learn. This makes me feel better and gives me something to look forward to—instead of dreading the day my last baby moves out.
Being a mom is the most fulfilling job anyone could have. And remember: just because your child leaves, it doesn’t mean your life is over. You’re always going to be “Mom”. In fact, now you get to move to the next stage of parenting: being a super mom, when you can truly be your adult child’s best friend! And yes, that's my son Brian in the picture. Merry Christmas everyone!