I am traveling home after dropping my oldest at college for his junior year, with my daughter already situated and starting her sophomore year. My youngest, a rising senior in high school, is sitting a row ahead of me and to the right. It seems like miles and miles away even though it can’t be more than 10 feet (airplanes today have tight seating!). My heart is sad, but at the same time, I am beyond grateful that I had the opportunity to raise these three amazing human beings. Being a Mom is so hard, rewarding, humbling and emotional. In fact, most times I feel like a complete lunatic with all the erratic emotions that come along with motherhood.
To say I am excited for all three of my children would be an understatement – I am over the moon! Two of them are at universities and the youngest is six months away from finding out where he will be starting the next leg on his educational journey. Despite these amazing milestones in life, I still find myself feeling melancholy and lost.
When my three children were born, I was married to a man I thought I would spend the rest of my life with. Unfortunately, we both have the disease of addiction and, like a lot of relationships with addicts, the marriage ended 14 years ago when my children were very young. They were just 7, 6 and 4 years old and needed me, so I was there for them. My number one priority was getting them to the finish line: graduation from high school without any major calamities along the way.
As any mother or guardian knows, high school years are trying times and the journey was challenging to say the least. Any or all my three of my children could have the disease of addiction but I won't know – or better yet they won't know – until they know. Yes, there is the option to get genetic testing but I believe it’s something's that needs to happen organically.
All three of my children have experimented with alcohol, but are they addicts? I don't know and to be completely honest, I don't want to be the judge. Judging whether someone as an addict is not my job, even if we’re talking about my own children. I’ll leave that call up to the individuals and the doctors.
Either way, raising children today where drugs and alcohol are so prevalent made my job as single mom that much harder! This was my choice and I take full responsibility. I have first-hand experience in learning what alcohol and drugs can do to a family, so I did everything power to ensure that the traits and characteristics I experienced in my childhood didn't happen to my children. In the end, my children/young adults refer to me as a “Helicopter Mom” … I'll take it!
While going through hard times when my children were younger, I found myself wishing the time away. I wanted to be in the future rather than live through tough and uncomfortable situations. I remember saying, “I just can't wait till they are all launched and on their way.” Well, here I am. They are 6 months away from being “launched” and I don't wish to be in the future anymore. In fact, I want time to slow down. I want them to need me again!
Fortunately, or unfortunately, the job I did raising these children resulted in me having strong, independent individuals that need their Mom to bounce ideas off but they no longer need me daily to hold their hand and show them the way… because I did that. I was there. I was present for them and I can honestly and humbly say I am a good Mom who did the very best I could, given the circumstances, and I wouldn't change a thing.
As I mentioned before, being a Mom is a hard and challenging role and one that I will never say I regretted.
To all those Moms out there feeling the way I am, know you are not alone! The back-to-school commercials do not bring up excitement like they did when my children were young. Instead, they now evoke nostalgia and hope that time would just slow down a little.
Enjoy your time. Don't wish it away. The present moment is exactly where you’re supposed to be – even when you want to just run away.