I was sitting in a restaurant the other day with a friend and noticed an older woman dining alone. Maybe in her late 60’s, finger empty of a wedding ring; she sipped her coffee and alternated between noticing families that came into the restaurant and staring blankly outside. My heart, for some reason, reached out to her. Not because she was alone – we all need that sometimes – but because something about her resonated with me. Something felt familiar about her.
‘That is going to be me one day.‘, I said to my friend, nodding in her direction.
‘Nah.‘ he said. ‘You will have grandchildren surrounding you because your whole life is your kids.’
If I listen to the modern day chatter all around moms and motherhood, I should have been offended by his comment. Instead, I actually smiled, glad that my love for my children was front and center in his mind. Glad that there is no doubt, no wavering and no question about where my priorities lie.
They really are my whole life. A single mom for most of their lifetime, every single decision I make it based on my children. I take into account how my decisions affect their lives, how my actions might change the way they think and how my moods and attitudes may negatively affect their childhood.
I tell them all the time that they are my top and only priority, that they are my #1 concern and that I would have nothing in my life if I did not have them.
I tell them all the things that the modern mom is not supposed to say.
The modern mom is supposed to have interests outside of her children. She is supposed to be well rounded, interested in lots of things and showing her children that strong, confident women have their own lives outside of raising them. It is supposed to show the children, by example, how to be happy for yourself instead of feeding off of the kid’s happiness.
I am supposed to be doing more for myself.
But, can we be honest here?
I don’t want to do more for myself. My children are, truly, my best friends.
Hold for collective gasp…
I like having my life centered around them. I love going to their school and sporting events and making my schedule mesh with theirs. I love taking them with me when I run errands, when I go to events and I cherish the looks on their faces when I surprise them with a trip or fun family event.
I have heard the ‘But what will you do when they grow up and leave you? You will be so alone.‘
‘You need to find a man for the rest of your life so you are not old and alone.’
‘Empty nest syndrome is real. You are going to crash and burn with no life of your own.‘
People are probably right. I probably will go through a massive depression and be totally lost when my children leave my home. I will look back on this article and know that I did it all wrong. I will write another one supporting all of the people who are telling me to get a life.
But, as of now, I am truly happy with the way things are. I really, really am.
I think of it this way:
I had 33 years to be all about me before I had kids. I only have them for 18 years – or, really, 15 years as friends will become their priority – and then, God willing, I will have another 30 – 40 years to be all about me again after they leave to build their lives. I see nothing wrong with them getting my undivided attention during those delicate, fleeting, short years that I have them.
I will have time to date, to travel on my own, to go to dinner with friends again, and to center my life around me. Maybe I will end up like the lady I saw in the restaurant. Alone and pensive while another mom in the restaurant thinks she can see her future in me. Who knows.
But, right now, I am OK with going against the grain. I would bet that I am not alone with this either.
And I don’t feel like any of us should have to apologize for it.
So, To the Mom Whose Whole Life is Her Kids: It’s OK.
You’re not alone, you’re not ‘weird’, you’re not failing.
You are just being the kind of mom you want to be. There is nothing wrong with that.
What do you think? Do you think moms who are kid focused are in for a rude awakening?