To: Parents (probably more the moms, but I’m not going to assume that) of school-aged children
Re: You gave a life. Now get one, too.
As our children grow older, we are faced with this conflicting moment when they simply don’t need us as much anymore. They don’t need us sitting on the floor playing cars and trains (sniffle, sniffle). But, OH! They don’t need us sitting on the floor playing cars and trains! (hooray! hooray!) No more pretending like I enjoy making choo-choo noises for hours on end.
They are off to school, spending hours in a classroom with an adult who is paid to expand their minds while entertaining them and running interference with the myriad social situations they will encounter. Mama is no longer there refereeing the sandbox watching out for the little girl in pigtails who looks like an angel but is actually the devil’s spawn.
Our children naturally want to spend less time with the people that brought them into this world, more time with the people that will teach them things about the world that their parents never wanted them to learn about, and, in a nutshell, gain their independence. This phase can leave many of us sitting on the living room floor wondering what to do with all those cars and trains.
If I may be so bold, let me tell you what to do. Stand up and go get yourself a life! They don’t need you to spend three hours pureeing their sweet potatoes anymore (not that they really needed that, Gerber had it under control). Mommy and Me classes are a thing of the past replaced by after-school and weekend sports and activities. Leisurely walks around the neighborhood with a mommy friend at 10 a.m. pushing strollers have now become bike rides on a Sunday afternoon. Those dependent babies are now independence-seeking school kids spending five days a week, approximately seven hours a day, in school. They are learning about how to become productive citizens. Now it’s your turn.
It’s time to show your kids what you’re made of! Let them see that you exist beyond getting whites whiter and perfecting your crock pot recipe by stalking Pinterest. I’ve seen too many parent “living vicariously through my kid” casualties to let it go on any longer. Your daughter’s perfect landing at the gymnastics meet was not your perfect landing. It was hers. Your son’s “Star of the Day” award from Kindergarten was not yours. It was his. And telling everyone and their brother about it still doesn’t make it yours. Yes, you’re proud. We are ALL proud of our kids. Go on, be proud. But also, be yourself.
Have something that’s yours, something that makes you feel good other than telling the world that your kid doesn’t eat red dyes because you are mother of the year and we are all here just hooking up our children to artifical dye IVs. Do something that belongs to you. If you need or want to work, go back to your career or start a new career. If you have the luxury (yep, I said it, luxury) of staying home while the kids are at school, get a hobby that keeps you engaged and makes you feel good about what YOU can do. This does not mean cleaning out the closets and alphabetizing the spice rack. Spend the time that your kids are in school learning about the world and themselves learning about the world and yourself.
Please stop trying to find your self-worth from your children. All of us parents do the best we can, have the best of intentions, and we rock in our own ways. Your child’s successes don’t make you awesome, they make him awesome. Now it’s your turn to go out and find your own awesomeness.