Tomorrow I will have been a mother for a quarter-century.
The last 25 years have been the most wonderful adventure of my life. Being a parent makes my heart soar – the piercing joy of my relationships with those six people more than compensates for the moments of sheer terror.
2011, the year our oldest child turns 25, is the year I will turn 50. I've been a mom for half my life. Next fall our youngest children will begin their senior year of high school, so I'm also entering my last year of having kids in K-12.
I have always expected to hate this moment – and who knows, it may still happen when the Littles start college in Fall 2012 – but now that it's almost here, it seems perfectly natural. Maybe that's because now I have experienced how cool it is to have adult children – they're still the same people I've always been crazy about, but once they move out their table manners and laundry are no longer my responsibility! I think a bigger part of it, though, is that now that I'm almost there, I remember what I'd lost sight of in the midst of the diapers and the PTA meetings and the choir rehearsals:
I'm still a person.
Over the last 25 years, as the kids have become more independent, so have I. I'm not going to have an empty nest for years yet, but I no longer spend the majority of my time dealing with other people's bodily processes. If my life is a movie, it's become a lot less Mary Poppins and a lot more Animal House.
I hope to move mindfully into this new stage of my life. It would be all too easy to fill up the days with Facebook and Redbox and entertainment-grade shopping, instead of doing the writing, traveling, gardening and relaxing that I've daydreamed about so often over the last two and a half decades. Sometime during the next 25 years I may get the opportunity to finish a thought uninterrupted, and I don't want to miss the chance.
All six kids have accomplished astonishing things, and I can't wait to see what they do with the next 25 years.
Or, for that matter, what I do!