This summer, my youngest child started college. He’s 18 and graduated high-school in May. I cried a little at the idea that my baby is growing up, but at the same time, my heart is so proud of him. He is doing everything we want our kids to do, everything we raised him to do, yet what does a mom do when all your kids are young adults?
What is Mom Life Like When the Kids Are Young Adults?
It’s a question I see a lot on the internets. We moms have made our lives about our kids for so many years, we lose our identity if we’re not careful. My oldest is going to be 31 in a few months and she’s a mom of her own baby girl. Seeing my daughter be a mother is an amazing thing, and I’m so proud of her. And I love that little girl SO much, words don’t describe it. Life is amazing when you become a grandmother, moreso than I would have realized, and it’s even better when I get to still be ‘mom’ to kids at home.
So let’s talk about the phase between when we’re actively parenting school-age (and younger) kids, and when they leave home. We’re not empty nesters, as we still have two kids at home, but mom life is now in a different phase. I can’t sign notes for school, I don’t need to pack lunches or any of the other things I have done for over 30 years. Truth be told, while so much of that tedium was exhausting, I loved every single minute of it and I’m sad that it’s over.
Moms, and dads, even when you’re tired, try to enjoy it. You never know when a moment will be the last time — the last time they need you to rub their back to fall asleep, the last time they ask you to make their favorite breakfast, the last time you sit in a school drop-off loop — so try to make each moment a memory you can happily lean on when you miss them. Trust me, it happens.
Now that I’m not legally responsible for anyone, I get to focus on myself a little more. I have a new business launching in a few days and I’m beyond excited about the possibilities as I’m already growing new clients. Leaving behind the corporate world has been a dream for a long time. I can zip over and play with the grandbaby and then come home, pour a glass of wine and peruse a food magazine without a rush. Happy hour? Sure! Shopping for new shoes? Sign me up!
We’ve been working on getting the youngest on the road safely. We bought him a car, but the DMV in California is so backed-up, getting a driver’s license appointment can take 4-8 weeks. It’s kind of ridiculous, so I’m putting a positive spin on it. Those hours I spend driving him back and forth to work and college are extra hours I get to talk to him. Just him, without the interruption of a phone or a TV or the doorbell. He gets in more driving practice and we have good conversations. Listening to them as young adults is just as important as listening to them as younger kids, maybe even more important, and I’m so lucky he loves to talk with me! (I also love that he surprises me with gifts and iced teas when I pick him up!)
My point? Don’t rush it. Spend as much time as you can with your kids because eventually, they will be so busy, you will wish you could see them more. I’m so glad my son chose a local college because my heart couldn’t take sending him out-of-state. If he really wanted to, I’d deal with it but we’re a pretty active family with a lot of gatherings, so it never feels right when one of them isn’t part of it. Family is what it’s all about!
Being a mom of young adult kids is pretty amazing. We still get to help kids with things, and their ‘things’ are typically bigger and more stressful than when they’re little, so I always laugh a little when someone says “I can’t wait until they’re older, I’m exhausted!” I’m here to tell you, settle in for the long haul. Even when they’re 30+, you’ll still be helping, checking in and worrying.
It’s really important, still though, to find a life for yourself. Dust off your craft items, research dream travel destinations, get back on the hiking trails or just do brunch. You’ve earned it. We’ve earned it. We are still people and it’s time to find what in life makes us happy outside of our kids. The husband and I just celebrated 25 years of marriage, and we’re currently in the midst of booking our big trip to France, Spain, Italy and Hungary. (Not sure yet how we’re making all of that happen in one trip though! International travel pros, chime in if you have tips!) We put the trip off this year due to the arrival of our grandbaby and our son graduating, and we also had the older dog who required a lot of attention. Next year, we can leave without missing any big milestones or leaving dog care in someone else’s hands, and we can probably go longer than we’d initially planned.
In the meantime, we’re doing a lot of local-ish travel. The flexibility to pick up and go is an amazing feeling. The husband surprised me with a birthday trip next month and I can’t wait to visit San Francisco again. The boys are self-sufficient and the younger one knows how to use Lyft if we’re not there when he has to get to work or school. Between full-time school and full-time work, his schedule is tight so I’m thankful we can afford to Lyft him if we can’t be there. After being a full-time mom for 30 years, I still forget sometimes that I can just do WHATEVER WE WANT.
That’s so liberating!
I miss the patter of doggy feet, and losing both furry babies in the last 10 months was incredibly difficult, but we’ll get a new puppy — or two — when we return from our trip. It’s hard being in an empty house though, I have to admit. I keep a TV on all day and I talk to myself, but life is good regardless. We have a big house renovation planned when we return, and making those plans is a lot of fun. Putting in new flooring then getting a new dog may not be the best of decisions but I’m ready for a change in decor and we’ll hire a pro to help get the potty training started so the pup isn’t restricted. The idea of going running with a dog is exciting! (I hate running, still, but I want to get in cardio so I can stay as healthy as possible. I’m hoping the dog will motivate me to actually want to do it someday. Am I hoping for too much?)
Mom life when the kids are young adults isn’t necessarily any easier, but we do get to do more of our own thing. I encourage you all to find what it is you want to do. Develop new hobbies or revisit old ones. Start that business. Go back to school. Fit in even more date nights! (I credit regular date nights as being one reason we’re married this long! We like to spend time together and it’s important to prioritize the other person.) Travel. Sleep late. Make your favorite foods. Open that expensive wine and enjoy it, slowly, on the balcony. Go to Disneyland and buy that 29th pair of Mickey ears. Do what makes YOU happy. You can do both more now than ever before, so take advantage of that! More money, more time, more getting back to who YOU are as a person….and without the guilt, because you’ve done your best for your kids and it’s time to sit back, watch them do what you raised them to do — be a good person and be a happy, productive member of society — and smile.
We’re going to talk about this more and more on the blog in the future. I want the site to be a place where other moms in similar phases of life can be encouraged to revisit their own interests, to find themselves, and maybe live a little dangerously. Life is short and we all deserve to be whatever we want to be!