“Being a Mom Is a Job for Life,” March 23, 2021

Life seems long when we’re looking ahead, and so short when we’re looking back. That’s especially true for a mother.

One day you’re holding a colicky two-month old, wondering if he’s ever going to stop crying. And the next day you’re dropping him off at college, wondering if he’s ever going to call you.

Where does time fly between colic and college?

I had three babies in five years. I taught them how to walk and talk and do their own laundry. Then one day, I turned around, and they were grown. And gone. And on their own.

I found myself wishing I could get them back—the babies and toddlers and even the teenagers. I wanted them to grow up. But I didn’t want to let them go. Imagine my surprise to discover that grown children can be as much fun as little ones. Here are a few examples:

My youngest child was just finishing high school when we lost his dad to cancer. Instead of heading off to college, Nate got a job cleaning campgrounds in Yosemite National Park, his dad’s favorite place, where we had camped every summer as a family.

That January, when my father-in-law died, I called Nate to say I’d drive up to Yosemite, stay overnight and we’d drive out the next day to attend a service for his granddad. It was snowing when I pulled into the park.

The next morning, Nate and I left early, only to get stuck behind a bus that had skidded sideways, blocking the road. We sat for five hours in a blizzard waiting for the road to be cleared. Meanwhile, Nate entertained me with knock-knock jokes and other things he had learned in Yosemite.

I will never forget it.

A few years later, I flew to New York, to visit my older son, an actor, who was living in Manhattan, and appearing as a doctor on a TV series called “Ed.” I spent the day on the set watching Josh act, and met the other actors in the show. I’d planned to fly home the next day. But that night, Josh began having pain in his right side. We took a cab to a hospital, where he was admitted for an appendectomy.

When he was released from the hospital, I stayed for a week to take care of him. We watched movies and ate take-out meals.

I will never forget it.

Last fall, my daughter, who’s a mom to her 9-year-old, and a teacher to a classroom of third-graders, invited me to share a long weekend, just the two of us, at a house she’d rented a few hours from home. We cooked a little, ate out a lot, and spent hours talking and laughing.

I will never forget it.

In a month or so from now, when my oldest and his wife are expecting their second child, I plan to be on hand for “Nana Duty,” and try my best to keep 2-year-old Jonah entertained. I don’t know what it might entail, but I am certain—based on past experiences with the births of my older grandchildren—that I will never forget it.

Being a mother doesn’t end when our children grow up. We still want to protect them, just as we did the day they were born. But they won’t need us in the same ways they did when they were little. That’s what growing up means. Children need to be cared for. Adults can take care of themselves—except when they need a little help.

But grown children will always need a mother. Not to tell them what to do or, heaven forbid, how to do it. But to listen when they need to talk. And to pray for them day and night. And if they have children, to be a “nana” for their babes.

At the same time, we’ll always need our grown-up children to make us laugh and keep us young and fill that place in our heart that only they can fill. We can have a lot of great times together. Who knows? They might even do our laundry.

Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing about how the relationship with your children continue now that they’re adults. I miss that with both my Mom and Dad gone now.

  2. ANNE M DAVIS says:

    …and I plan to move in with mine when the time comes (as payback for moving back in for several years AFTER college)–and THEY will never forget–seriously, I understand exactly what you have shared and do treasure all the “extra” years we spent together (and still do!)
    xo

  3. Kate Sciacca says:

    They better do my laundry 😂😂. Spent this evening chatting with the eldest about life’s struggles, joys, sorrows, past hilarious situations and future hopes… for him and his family and for his brothers, sister and all his nieces and nephews. Such a peaceful joy to see these adult kids (who used to scratch each other’s names into the kitchen table to get a sibling in trouble… we weren’t fooled!) caring about and loving one another. Can’t ask for more than that.

  4. Beth Heeren says:

    Hi Sharon!
    Well, I finally get to be a Grandma! My daughter Kaitlin is due in June. She moved to NC…and we are planning to move there too…near Raleigh.
    My son Josh is an aerospace engineer and just got a job as a lead systems engineer for NASA! Annalise,whom you met, is 19 now. She wants to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a counselor. I’m doing great…still greatly involved in music…however, just getting over Covid. It wasn’t too bad. My mom just moved in with us…but thankfully her Covid vaccine worked! I’m enjoying having my mom live with me. She says hi! I got her your book for Christmas and she really enjoyed it. I am reading it now, and especially like imagining NC,
    Glad you are well, love hearing about Josh, Joanna and Nate.
    Blessings!
    Beth

  5. Dianne Baer says:

    Thank you so much for this message. I also have three adult children and have found new joy in the new relationship we’ve developed as they grew up. I will admit that I was often confused by hearing acquaintances say how excited they were to have their last chick out of the nest. I was far from excited but knew it was part of life. I remember a funny moment when my youngest had moved off to college and I made a run to Subway to get sandwiches for my husband and me. I was in the middle of ordering my usual (which included a footlong meatball sandwich for my son) when it hit me that he wasn’t at home anymore. I’m sure the other people in line wondered what the tears were all about, but if they were parents they would understand.

  6. Katie says:

    Well Sharon, you have done it again…written what we moms/ grandma can relate too so easily and laugh and recall wonderful memories. We are so blessed to have grown kids. NOW I Am celebrating my first GREAT grandchildren! Here we go..
    More fun and memories in the making. Katie

  7. Debbie says:

    We are blessed to be mothers and grandmothers~~God created us to love and nurture our babies and grandbabies and I treasure my role in this life we live!!!! Loved this column, Sharon!!!!

  8. Joy Dunne says:

    This is so true!! Our oldest lives in Fairbanks, Alaska. We talk nearly every week. Our youngest lives 2 blocks from us with his wonderful wife and 2 of the greatest kids in the world! We never stop loving each other, & being there.

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