I was talking with someone over the long weekend about life in general, and I mentioned how strange it was to have an empty house like we did on Sunday. With my youngest now 13, and my 19 yod taking him places (and her friends enjoying his company) it’s a new phase in life. To be honest, I don’t look forward to the “empty nest” years, as I’ve been a mom now for almost 26 years and not being a mom of young kids is going to be a major adjustment. As it is now, with the Little Dude not being so little anymore, things are already different.
I realized something though: being a Mom is what I do, but not all that I am.
I’m a mom, but I’m also a wife, a sister, a friend, a business owner, an employee, and a blogger. And I’m not a mommy blogger; I am a blogger who is a mom. I haven’t posted about parenting in a while, not for any real reason other than I don’t think I have any astounding parenting wisdom to share, and let’s face it, everyone can spout off parenting advice or list what others are doing wrong or what we should be doing…and I tend to ignore it, I’m not a fan of online advice because every single parent and child dynamic is different and the best advice often seems to come from those with no children or those with only small children. I like to learn from those with experience, and ideas from new parents are also helpful, but I also think we undervalue our own instincts and need to focus more on what works for us and far less on what others think of us. Judgments are a dime for two dozen and it’s much more challenging to pave our own way but way more rewarding and appropriate.
Nothing turns me off more than someone spouting on Facebook how we should “never do xxxx” or “xxx is wrong!!” It’s important that we all have our freedom to share our feelings but it also means we have to accept that others will think differently and be okay with that; what you say ‘never’ to may be something we do all the time, successfully, without problems or adverse reactions. For instance, I have a child who plays “those” video games..you know, the kind that keep them inside and out of the heat during the summer and inspired them to learn to write code and create their own games. I allow my son to eat sugar <gasp> and he eats all his vegetables and doesn’t pig out when I offer it because it’s not forbidden. Not all those ‘bad’ things are really bad, if you handle them appropriately.
I didn’t intend on having my last child so many years later but God had other plans, so I turned out to be an older mom…and I wouldn’t have it any other way, so I’ll confess: I’m not in my 30s anymore, but don’t tell anyone. I still see a lot of moms at Little Dude’s school that are my age, but more are younger, and that’s okay. For us, it’s been ideal, and here are a few perks of being an older mom:
We don’t sweat the little things. We’ve learned to pick our battles. It’s more important to us to enjoy the time with our kids than to be constantly correcting them. We’ve learned that leaving them at the table until they eat every last green bean on their plate is a lot less urgent than snuggle time on the couch. We have always wanted the kids to want to be home, and while no kid always wants to be, I think we’ve done pretty good in that even our older kids come back to hang out. Spending time with them — you either do it or you don’t, and you don’t get that time back.
We’ve had time to build a life around the kids. This past weekend, we went to an Indy race and out for a night with friends, and had a barbecue with the kids and their friends. I think it’s important for a marriage to grow when you really enjoy being together and that’s good for the kids to see as well.
Finances: as you get older, you usually have more financial freedom.
With age, comes wisdom, which comes from experience. We joke with our oldest that she was the guinea pig and the youngest now benefits. We know we’re not going to scar him by saying no and that an unhealthy dinner now and then isn’t going to physically hurt him so we don’t get upset by media scare tactics about how we are potentially ruining our kids. (See above comment on “Follow your instincts.”) I guess you could say we’re comfortable with our parenting.
Kids help keep you young. I went out and ran in the rain with Little Dude a couple of weeks ago. We play board games, watch comedies or scary movies and make (and eat!) decadent cookies. I want to be silly, to shop for clothes with the girls and make new memories daily, rather than focusing on the past or having regrets. Life is short, and each phase of our life is just a part; being a parent is such an amazing thing, so young or old, even if many of the moms of my youngest’s friends are younger than me, I’m going to focus on the good parts of that and enjoy every minute that I can.