I’ve really felt a shift in parenting in recent months. I’m no longer the parent of young kids. I don’t do crafts, plan elaborate activities for a rainy afternoon, or take my kids to see children’s plays. I don’t go on popsicle walks or puddle walks or to story time at the library. I don’t pick up legos and doll clothes at night. My kids don’t need to hold my hand and sometimes they even go on adventures without me.
I am the parent of older kids. We go to the library and each wander our own way until we come together to show each other our selections. We go out to eat more often. We go on dunes hikes and long bike rides. I stay up late at night waiting for everyone to get home.
It’s different. Not bad mind you, just different. Part of me misses all the little kid action but more of me is enjoying all the new adventures I can now do with my kids.
For Mother’s Day we went on a short trail walk and out to lunch in a nearby Lake Michigan beach town. At lunch there was a table next to us with a younger family – three little kids. It made me smile to watch them all clamor for mom’s attention – both because those days are golden and because they are so tiring. I smiled because I was sitting at my table with a beer and older kids who can cut their own food and don’t need to announce something to me every 30 seconds. It’s a good phase of parenting for sure. Still… I knew that mom was going to have kids crawl into her lap later that day and ask to read a book. And I miss that.
So after lunch when we walked down to the beach and this immediately happened…. well, it made my heart happy to see that my older kids are still kids at heart. (even if they don’t ask me to read aloud to them anymore)
I did not have breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day. I did not get flowers or chocolates. All of those are perfectly nice things, they just aren’t my style. I did get some homemade gifts from the elementary school-aged children (those teachers do a nice job of helping Dad out on Mother’s Day don’t they?) I didn’t have to cook any meals or clean up after them. And I received the most perfect gift for me: a family adventure.
I love taking the kids out to do something new. So when my husband told me he had a day trip in mind for my Mother’s Day gift, I pounced on the chance. We told the kids they would have to figure it out on the way. It took about half the drive for them to figure out we were heading to Chicago. And then about ten more minutes to figure out our destination after I told them it was someplace they had never been before.
Yep, we took them to the Sky Deck on top of the
Sears Willis Tower.
We zoomed up 103 floors in one minute. We scouted out some of our favorite landmarks. I showed them the birds-eye view of my half marathon course from the day before (yep, I also ran a half marathon on Mother’s Day weekend – race report coming soon). I told my husband that my favorite view was to the North with the skyline and the Lake. He laughed and said he liked the view to the South best. Appropriate for me the Cubs fan and he the Sox fan.
We took the kids out on the sky ledges where there’s just a bit of glass between you and the Chicago River far, far below. Even the middle child who is not a fan of heights stepped out.
It was something I’ve been wanting to cross off our Chicago list of adventures. It was a great Mother’s Day gift.
I have had various types of friends in my life but none as important to me as my mom-friends. A mom-friend is not just a friend who is a mother. It is a friend who is like a mother to your children. She’s the friend who doesn’t think you’re strange for obsessing over that bump on your child’s jaw. She’s the friend who laughs alongside you when you throw up your hands and give in to the chaos. She’s the friend who you can call at 2am to watch your children in an emergency. She’s the friend that is welcome no matter how messy the house is. If you don’t talk to her for a day or two – you wonder what’s going on.
A mom-friend will cheer for you when the going is good. She will raise you up when the going is tough. A mom-friend will take your children when you need a break, talk to them when they need to hear from an adult who isn’t their parent, and correct them when they step out of line. A mom-friend is a pearl to be treasured in a sea of competitive parenting. (And why did parenting become competitive anyway?)
I found my first, true mom-friend when my oldest was four years old. I didn’t know such a thing existed before then. It didn’t take long to realize that while I would come across many mothers as my children attended school, took swim lessons and joined teams – I wouldn’t often find a mom-friend. We live in different cities now and yet, I could drop off my children at her house this afternoon and everyone would be comfortable together.
At this stage in my life, I am lucky enough to have not just one mom-friend but a group of them. Each brings something different to the mix. I think we complement each other well – not just as mothers but as women. And I am a better mother because I have surrounded myself with true mom-friends. You know who you are. And I thank you from the bottom of my messy heart. Happy Mother’s Day.
Once upon a time, ten years ago in fact, I was pregnant with my second child. Oh I was so excited that I was going to have a spring baby this time. The first one was born in the dead of winter and I felt so cooped up in the house. But this baby would be different! We would go on lovely walks and lay on a blanket in the shade of beautiful spring days. She was born the week before Mother’s Day. I came home from the hospital with her the day before Mother’s Day. And I’m sure I got something nice for a gift that Mother’s Day but I was still in a sleep-deprived, painful (from the c-section), drug-induced sort of fog.
And that should have been my first clue. Because since that lovely spring when we brought home a child that is as dear to my heart as gold, Mother’s Day has never been quite the same. More than half the time there really is no such thing as Mother’s Day really. Oh, sure I’ll get some handmade gifts and cards from the kids – all of which I’ll save and surely shed tears over later in life. But the idea of a day just for mom? A day where I pick all the meals, get waited on hand & foot, am allowed to shut the door for some peace & quiet. Ummmm…. that just doesn’t happen most years. Because most years Mother’s Day weekend is also E’s Birthday Weekend.
This year her birthday is the day after Mother’s Day but since there is so much going on that day we are celebrating Birthday Eve (aka Mother’s Day). So she has picked the dinner and homemade cake and I’ll spend my Mother’s Day cooking & baking. Just add it to the list of things I’ve given up as a mother:
– a face without under eye circles
– a good night’s sleep
– going to the bathroom in complete privacy
– Mother’s Day pampering
And for the record… that spring of 2001 we went on plenty of walks – mainly because the sound of her crying in the great outdoors was less grating than the sound of it reverberating off the walls of our house. We also laid on blankets in the shade – and she still cried. I should have been more wary of that early May due date.
(luckily the kid was all we hoped for – once she stopped crying anyway – check out her birthday interview next week and you’ll probably agree, she’s one cool kid.)