Honestly. I just do NOT get people sometimes.
As my kids have gradually left the nest, one by one, and in their own ways, I have gotten the weirdest and, sad to say, insensitive comments by people, most of whom either don’t have kids or who weren’t active in their kids’ lives.
That being said, I belong to a group of friends that enjoy children. We like our own. We like each others. We celebrate the victories. We pray for each other when times get tough. We have lost children to tragedies. We laugh and cry with and about our kids. I love that gatherings include kids of all ages. So when I’m subject to the less kid-friendly people in my life, it’s almost like being in another realm…a very foreign realm.
When my youngest was heading off to college a couple of years ago, one of the first comments I got was from a man who did not have kids of his own.
“You’re finally free!”
That hit me wrong. I had to think on that for a few seconds. I mumbled something about yeah, ha ha, whatever. Because I’m a writer. And writers are not generally quick witted. I am that prime example.
I hate those conversations I have in my head with people long after they’re gone. For hours after I had talked with this person, I came up with a million things I could have said. That I’ve always been free. That I’ve never felt that my kids were a burden. That freedom to me was being able to have kids, loving and enjoying them and now watching them go out into the world on their own and totally rocking it.
But of course I didn’t.
So when the next insensitive comment came along, this time, surprisingly, from a father, I was more prepared to say something of more intelligence but most importantly, how I really felt.
“Now you get to figure out who YOU are. You get to do what YOU want.”
Ahem. Drumrolll, please.
“I”ve always known who I am,” I said boldly. “I was a mom before I had kids. I enjoy taking care of others. I care deeply about other people. I will always be a mom and I know it and I am proud of it. And for the record, I’ve always been able to do what I want. I have a husband who supports my every decision and kids who are flexible and trustworthy so that I can travel or get away and feel good about it.”
Okay, maybe the conservation wasn’t verbatim, but I DID manage to get my point across.
It was one of the most surprising things about entering this new season of parenthood that I was not prepared for and do not like….that people assume you’ve lived under a rock for the last 18 to 20 years and that you can now emerge and REALLY live life.
I began to live life when my first child was born. I knew completely that this was the job God had for me and I was going to do it well. And I did. And I loved it.
I lived in the joy that is happy children in a happy home in a happy school with other happy people and family.
I have lived a glorious life knowing that these kids are going out into the world and will bring joy to others as they have to me. And there is more joy to come when weddings and babies arrive.
I’ve always had my freedom. I live free from selfishness. I live free from boredom. I live free from sadness. Motherhood has brought me everything I need to truly live.