I have been a stay-at-home mother most of my life. I started when I had my first child, and continue to this day, despite the fact that my youngest is twenty-three. Being a mother is the job one can never retire from, or quit. I’m here when they need to crow, or to cry, when they need help or advice, when they just need that one person who will love them no matter what. They are my first priority. Always have been. Always will be.
Three of my four kids have been out of the house for some time. My fourth is moving out this week. This one has needed a little more care and feeding than the others. For a while, I don’t think he believed he’d ever be all-around well enough to live on his own. I always knew he would be, even if a small piece of me held on to him staying. Now that he’s truly ready to step out into his own life, I’m truly happy. Happy that he is well. Happy that he can get the hell out of here. Happy that he is happy and healthy and thriving.
My kids are grown. My husband and I did an amazing job. We have raised five truly extraordinary people, nursed them through good times and bad, helped them become who they are, who they’ve always had the potential to be. I’m really proud of them. I’m proud of myself. And I’m ready.
I started this mom-gig at eighteen. I was the mother of two and a widow when I met my Frankie D. We started our life together with three kids–two of mine, one of his. Then we added two more. We’ve been married twenty-six years and have never been “just us.” It’s about time we got to see how that feels.
As a mother, I’ve never lamented time ticking by. I enjoyed every stage of my kids’ growing years and never wished for my babies back. I’m not going to lament this part of their growth either. Empty nest has no negative connotation for me. I love the adults they’ve become. I enjoy them completely. Should they ever need to come home again, they know the option is there. That makes me happy too, because it means they truly understand how unconditionally they are loved.
It occurred to me this morning that raising kids is, in many ways, like writing a book. The stories birthed in our minds grow on the pages. There are fun times and frustrating times, but in the end, we have a book that goes out into the world. We miss it. We miss the writing of it. Creating the characters. The places. But it’s a triumphant feeling, sending it confidently out into the world to see what will become of it.
At fifty-one, I’m not having any more kids. Grandkids, sure, but they’re not mine. I just get to play with them and buy them fun things like magic wands and pirate eye-patches. I can write more books, though, and that’s what I’m going to do right now.