Despite being a stay-at-home mom and then a mom-who-works-from-home, I've never really fit the mom mold. Yes, I had fun taking my kids to all their activities when they were little, am grateful for being present for every game or swim meet, am happy I was able to volunteer in their elementary classrooms, and am absolutely thrilled at the kind-hearted, wonderful human beings I raised as a single parent. I have no regrets about the last twenty years--none. I loved being able to have a flexible schedule where I could easily put my family first. But there were plenty of things I didn't like about parenting young kids and certainly won't miss now that both of my kids are off to college--and none of them have anything to do with my kids, but with fulfilling the role of parent. UGH. Good riddance!
I won't miss the mom-pressure. You know what I'm talking about--the judgy eyes, the rumors, the petty gossip if I didn't do _______. Fill in the blank. As women, we put each other under too much pressure to be some ideal parent no matter what is happening in life. Didn't sign up to bring a hot dish to the parent meeting because the budget was tight? Expect judgy eyes or a snippy comment from someone. Didn't volunteer to be the team mom (or class mom)? Expect a comment about how it must be nice to have so much "free time." If your kid decides to pursue a different sport and has a new circle of friends, expect to be asked "if he has any friends anymore" or if he "just decided to give up" by the parents from the old group. Mom-pressure comes in many forms. Once, as a solo parent, I literally couldn't afford the $20 entry fee to watch my daughter compete in the state swim meet. I had used all my cash on gas and snacks to pack in her bag, drove nearly three hours to be there, and waited in cold Colorado February conditions for eight hours in my car. I checked in with her via text, turned the car on here and there to stay warm, and waited wrapped in a blanket in the front seat. A few moms coming out of the meet later that night saw me picking my daughter up on the curb and made sure to tell me what a shame it was I hadn't been inside watching, and how disappointed my daughter probably was that I hadn't been there to cheer her on. I definitely won't miss any of that.
I won't miss the hectic schedule. How many hours of my life have been spent waiting? Waiting in cars, waiting in gyms, waiting on humid swimming pool bleachers, waiting for plays to start, waiting for parent/teacher conferences, waiting in parking lots at odd hours to hook up with a carpool. My time is MINE again! Woo! Now, if I'm waiting, I hope like hell it's for a concert or a spa appointment or to board a plane.
I won't miss fighting about homework. I told both of the kids this regarding college--it's all on you now. I want them to succeed, but I took them as far as I can. I've taught them all the skills needed to be accepted into college, but what they do with those lessons is no longer on my shoulders. I no longer give a shit about homework, class papers, a D-bag teacher who should have retired years ago, or any of that drama. Adios!
I won't miss teenage angst. Oh, my god. Now, my teenage son's dirty socks will be his roommate's problem and my daughter's OCD will be her issue. I'll see them over holiday breaks when they return with all their stuff, that's true, but hopefully they will grow up while out there in the world and will learn the basic life skills needed when mom isn't there 24/7. And, if I'm lucky, perhaps their kill-each-other-rapid-fire arguments will cease now that they will be apart more often than not. A mom can hope...
I won't miss the competition. This sort of ties in with mom-pressure, but it's more about the kids. I noticed it even at high school graduation--the one-up mentality about what your child has chosen to do after high school, the comments about what college is best and what major is more important. I'm so over it I could care less. I just want my kids to be happy--whether that be college or slinging burgers, I really don't care. And guess what? This small snippet of time doesn't matter in the big scheme of life. Plans change. People change. They grow, they evolve, they decide they want something else. So guess how many f*cks I give about how your kid's college compares to my kid's college? Or about how your kid's major is more serious than my kid's' major? OH MY GOD STOP! First of all, a person can major in anything--whether they graduate with that degree is what matters and then actually find a job and LOVE IT. I have never been the competitive mom--ever. I chose a pre-school where I thought my kids would be happy, never made them play a sport they hated, and have remained silent in the face of all the one-uppers out there. Hey, here's some advice---don't live through your kids! They grow up, get lives of their own, and move away--as it should be.
It's time. We made it! My little battered and bruised family who suffered such a tragic loss with my husband's suicide and who overcame financial hardships that created a lot of despair--we have overcome it all. We have reached a new chapter in our lives and it's worth celebrating!
As the kids enter the new phase of their lives, I reclaim myself and my goals for my life. I hope to be a digital nomad who travels with groups of writers in far away places for adventures, drinks, and laughter. I look forward to all the new friends I have yet to meet--I'm sure you're awesome! I make no apologies for my happy dancing out the door as I load their luggage up and send the kids on their way.
We did it. It's time. No regrets. No apologies. Bring on the empty nest and the new adventures!
One of the greatest lessons I've learned in life is that everything is temporary so enjoy the moment, whether it's thrilling or scary, because moments quickly pass, people come and go, and the best is yet to come.
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. She also writes five different blogs, works as a professional editor and author coach, creates a line of inspirational journals, volunteers for children's literacy, and advocates for suicide awareness. In addition, she is the mother of two extraordinary human beings who lives in a small cabin high in the Rocky Mountains where she is completely aware of how lucky she is. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com.