Is there another human role that requires complete metamorphosis?

Grieving Mothergrieving mother statue

The challenge of being a mother of older children is huge. It makes me mad to contemplate all the mocking media portraits of mom–interfering mothers-in-law, mothers who phone to pester–people to be avoided, so that their phone messages are ignored or they are asked to cut short a visit, presumably as payback for their annoying ways. Younger people must make these movies, I guess. And I guess they find their moms cloying. hard to dodge, guilty of being repetitive, lost in the past and imposing unreasonably high expectations. To lose mom is to grow up.

Yet, I know lots of nice and sensitive moms of older children. They love their kids and willingly let them go on to live lives; they try to find constructive ways to fit in and stay part of lives that grow forward and away. What a painful process. Of course, it’s natural and the point must be to learn grace in acceptance. But it’s not simply funny that the very person you were charged with helping and watching becomes the person you must learn to leave alone. Not much comedy here.

Maybe we need to build in more supports and advice to protect good and devoted moms from themselves. We need to make more tangible that the goal is to raise kids so that they move out and on. But letting kids assert independence is the very stuff of parent-teen push-pull. There’s surely no formula to orchestrate this dance.

The other day I was telling a friend that someone we knew was missing her only daughter, gone off to university as of September. Her comment was, “We all miss them.” She meant all us moms. This usually boisterous woman spoke of the loneliness of kids gone in a voice that was quiet, perhaps almost resigned– a voice we use when we are trying to come to terms with something inevitable, but really hard.

No wonder the blogs of mommies who have babies in arms and afoot are different than the blogs of moms with adult kids.The difference in what it means to mom is a gaping breach. One stage is full of talk and communication; the later stage moves into silences.