We love being moms. We loved it when our kids were little. We loved feeding them – broiling a lamb chop just for them, putting a dollar under their pillow from the tooth fairy, documenting their first steps, school concerts and T-ball games with videos and photos and memory books.
But we can no longer pretend that our kids are little. Between us, we have three sons and two daughters. They range in age from 17 to 27 and in height from 5’8” to 6’5.” Three of them live on their own. The milestones have changed, and we don’t see them as often as we’d like to, but we still kvell and worry and cook. We love it when they come home. We stock the refrigerator with their favorite foods and cook up a whole rack of lamb. We like to pretend that they still need us as much as they used to. While many things have changed, we have noticed some similarities:
Then: They refused to eat strained peas.
Now: They refuse to eat supermarket sushi.
Then: We gave them $5 a week allowance.
Now: We slip them cash on the way to the train because we know they need it.
Then: They loved being pushed in the stroller.
Now: They borrow Mom’s car for “important business.”
Then: We picked out his clothes and dressed him in suspenders and a bow tie.
Now: We ask him to make sure has a clean shirt for a family wedding.
Then: We loved browsing the racks of frilly toddler girl clothes and dressing her in lilac leggings with a polka dot top.
Now: We still shop for her even though she isn’t with us. We see an outfit that we think would look great, text her a picture, and hope for the best.
Then: We hung every precious piece of artwork on the refrigerator.
Now: We “like” their projects on Facebook.
Then: We used to take family vacations – and that meant everyone went.
Now: Somebody gets left out because of school or work schedules. Sometimes that means us — the kids travel without us!
Then: We knew all their friends – they came to our kitchens for every birthday and we chatted with their moms in the carpool line. If we didn’t know them, we could look them up in the school directory.
Now: Our children mention friends/co-workers/neighbors that they think we should know – because they know them. (If we’ve only met them once, how should we know to add them to the friend list?).
When the kids were little, they were always there – unless we took them someplace else. They had no lives of their own. They needed us for everything. And while it’s great to be needed, we did need a break sometimes. Now we’ve got a break and we miss them. We love it when they are back home and needing us again. We thrilled to listen to their accomplishments and dilemmas, offer unasked-for advice, and cook them the kugel they always loved.
We’re not yet ready to be grandparents — we are not that old! But we can imagine how great it can be. We will get to revisit all those “thens” with our children’s children. How wonderful to be able to start all over again with little kids.
Yes, just going through the photo albums to find the photos for this essay made us cry….