The other night on the Face book page I asked how old my readers’ oldest child is. Answers ranged from 51 on down to a few weeks old. That is a lot of years of motherhood, no?
“Oh, but that 51 year old does not need mothering.”, you may say. “Oh, but a 2 week-old is way easier than my tween.”, someone else will say.
The fact is. . . mothering never really gets easier. And, unlike a job that eventually (but not always) has retirement as an ultimate goal, mothering is a forever thing.
My grandmother never stopped worrying about her kids. . . or her grandchildren.
That mom with a 51 year old “child”, is likely to still be giving advice, encouragement, and prays daily for her offspring.
So now, we may be in the thick of things. Our kids are infants, terrible twos, tweens, or even getting ready to graduate from high school and leave for college (sigh). We need to keep our mothering energy up.
How do we keep from “losing it” now, so that we still have the energy (emotional and otherwise) to still be great moms once our kids are adults?
Go With the Ebb and Flow
There are times in your childrens’ lives that are very time, energy and emotion consuming. Their first year, with sleepless nights, endless feedings and thousands of diapers seems never ending. So many decisions you make seem like they are life changing and life-altering. Do we breast or bottle feed? Daycare or stay at home? Cloth diaper or disposable? Crib or co-sleep? Sleep train or no?
While these decisions should be well-thought-out for your family’s situation, let me let you in on a little secret:
Don’t sweat it, mama! Junior won’t breastfeed well and you are worn down trying? My best friend has three bright formula fed children. Don’t want to use disposables? That is fine, plenty of people use cloth. . .or they don’t. Worried that if baby spends one night, or one week, or one month, or one year in your bed that you will never get her out? No worries, most high school seniors sleep in their very own big kid beds.
And when motherhood gets just a wee bit easier, like after that first day of kindergarten– relax a little. Get a mani-pedi. Have coffee with your girlfriends. Stare at baby pictures and sniff a little. You just might get a little mothering downtime–at least during the day.
Things will ramp up again. Sports, clubs, plays, dance recitals. They will possibly consume your social time. Get a good planner, and soak it in. . .because the teens years can be lonely for a mom.
You might feel a bit like Beverly Goldberg, that your kids don’t need you anymore.
But they do. Whether they act like they appreciate you or not. They still need you. And they always will.
Be ready to be that listening ear, open door, and supporter.
But to be able to have this kind of mothering stamina–stamina to endure the marathon of motherhood, you have to pace yourself.
Don’t burn yourself out on the minutia of the newborn stage, don’t hover/helicopter (using up all of your gas) in the preschool to tween years, and don’t let teen angst discourage you.
Each stage of childhood has its own unique joys, and each stage of motherhood does as well. The key is taking time in each stage to be present, to breathe it in, to make memories, and to love our kids for who they are, right here and right now.
Chime in! Where are you at in your mothering marathon? What are you doing to enjoy it?