Monday, November 28, 2011

Some Changes That Come When Children Grow Up

Our friends, the Nemitzes, had their 2nd annual (thanks to Emily, home from college and wanting to see everyone!) Thanksgiving Weekend Bonfire on Saturday, and a few of us moms were discussing some of the changes that have occurred in our families as our children are growing up. My friend Tracy was commenting on how her oldest, who is almost 18, has a job this year, plus basketball practice 4 days a week, plus a few other commitments, which means she is rarely at home - something Tracy was not prepared for before high school graduation! She suddenly realized how much her two children did together for school, and now her son was left floundering a bit without his sister around so much. Another friend was talking about her son's first (not very pleasant) foray into the world of dating. There are a lot of new things to deal with that make us moms of older children look very nostalgically back on the days of sippy cups and multiplication tables.

Most of my homeschool friends whose children have grown and left for college or jobs have said the same thing. They were unprepared for how much they would MISS them!  It is a huge adjustment, because for years we have had them around pretty much all day, every day! Sometimes, even the older ones who still physically live at home are so much in their own independent world that they are still "missing" from the family.  One friend half-jokingly suggested that we start a support group for homeschool moms of grown children, to help work through the transition to "retirement".

Not only do we miss having our children around, but we also lose that "extended family" of their close friends.  Many of my children's friends are like part of our family, and I miss seeing them at ballgames or co-op or the other activities that were part of our regular routine.  Thankfully, I can still stalk keep connected with many of them on Facebook.

Another real issue as your children grow up is how to handle holidays and vacations. It has been hard on my older children as well as on me to have them miss family camping trips or visits up north to see grandparents and relatives. It used to be that the whole family would make the annual trip to Massachusetts each summer to visit the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  But this past summer only 1 of my 5 children made the trip.  It makes me very sad to think that my children might now go years without seeing their grandparents.  I think it is even sadder because I see myself getting closer to that time of life when I may not get to see my own children for extended periods of time. It has already happened with my oldest son, who is on his 2nd year-long deployment overseas with the Army, thus missing another Thanksgiving and Christmas with our family.

I know my mother went through this, as has every mother since the beginning of time. Transitions are tough. There's just nothing easy about it. To all you moms with little ones who can't wait for them to grow up -  be careful what you wish for.
It will come all too soon.


Eve said...

I have definitely begun to feel more empathy for my mother! I'm so thankful that we have kids that like, need, crave that family to be all together as much as we do. (Just maybe not quite as often as we would like!) :)

Gramma Jelly said...

Hopefully grandchildren will help fill that void for you, at least for awhile (even the last of mine at age 11 is expanding outside interests). I'll never get used to it. Miss you all! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

Glynis said...

I found this blog while pondering the question of life-changes that happen to homeschooling mothers like myself when the nest empties. I've home-schooled my children since 1993. I have two that are graduated now and one left at home. She is in 10th grade and actually doing an online charter school, requiring less input from me. When my oldest graduated, I became certified as a personal trainer and began to work part-time outside the house. Not many hours, but a bit to reintroduce myself to not being home with kids constantly. I also returned to school to get my bachelor's in business administration, something I put on hold when I had children.

Anyhow, what I am discovered is that I while I want my children to spread their wings, there is much that I already miss. We had an active home-school co-op that has dissolved as children have left the nest. We, the mothers, were active socially with each other and also were fulfilled by teaching the classes we organized. It certainly leaves a hole.

While I do now have grandchildren to "fill" the void, I find it dangerously easy to become too helpful - where I find myself reluctant to pursue my own happiness if it limits my availability to be on call for them. My mother was *not* an available sort, so in striving to be and do more than she, I may have made myself too available, too necessary.

Anyhow, I think we, as home-schooling moms, have quite a challenge handling our empty nests and shaking off our aprons.