Monday, May 7, 2012

Mother's Day reflections

Messages of love

Simply Living
May 7, 2012

Although I've been a mother for 33 years, my parenting role isn't the same as it used to be.

When my kids were little, one of my main jobs was to sooth bumps and bruises. Tender kisses, comforting words and well-placed Band-Aids did wonders to alleviate life's owies and make everything better.

These days, the hurts I address tend to be more fiscal than physical.

Loving hugs and supportive comments still work magic but as my offspring navigate the turbulent waters of modern-day adulthood dealing with mortgage payments and insurance issues, daily living expenses, taxes and child-care concerns, I find myself reaching into my wallet more often than the medicine cabinet.

I don't mind the change and I'm glad to be able to help. At this stage of parenthood, instead of being a fixer of strife, my job is to be a fixture of life. I strive to be a stable reminder of what parenting is all about: unconditional love and support.

I'm more an observer these days than an active participant. Both of our daughters are married with children of their own. One son is in his last year of college while his older brother has taken over the day-to-day operations at our bamboo nursery. I try to be there for my children without being too involved in their everyday lives. I want to help without hampering their burgeoning efforts at adulthood and parenting.

As Mother's Day approaches, I find myself reflecting on the different stages of parenting.

I made it through the early days of seemingly endless sleepless nights, dealt successfully with medical emergencies, conquered challenging social and educational hurdles and managed to usher my children through their individual periods of romantic angst with everyone's hearts still intact.

If you had asked me what I wanted for Mother's Day 10 years ago when my youngest child was still living at home, I would have answered the same way I did every previous year: "I want four hours — that's all — just four hours, in the house ALL BY MYSELF."

When children are little, alone time is a precious commodity. The two things I couldn't get enough of when our kids were small were a good night's sleep and time in the house by myself. These days, both are non-issues.

I have plenty of alone time in a house no longer filled with other people's strewn-about clothing, partially filled glasses, broken toys and sandy-soled shoes. I enjoy my newfound independence as well as the chance to spend uninterrupted time with my husband. I also sleep better now than I have in decades although I still toss and turn when one of the kids is having problems that I can't get off my mind.

If you ask me now what I want for Mother's Day, I'd say, "I want to see my children happy. I want to know they are managing even though they've outgrown the magic of Band-Aids and a mother's kiss to make everything better."

There's no getting around life's bumps and bruises. Maternal roles may change as children age but a mother's desire to ease hurts remains constant.

My Mother's Day wish is intangible, but that doesn't make it less desirable or important. It also doesn't matter if the currency I dole out takes the form of dollar bills or common sense. My job as a mom is to do what I can to help my children live happy, healthy lives.

When my kids were little and they misbehaved, I used to give me them a piece of my mind. These days, peace of mind is the gift I'm after.

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