I sat behind a woman at church the other day who had three children that I’m guessing were aged ten and under. The youngest, a little girl of about three, would spread-eagle on the chairs the minute it was time to stand. And when sitting was required, she would jump up and down like a pogo stick (toddler logic at its finest!). The boy looked to be about seven and was completely absorbed in his drawing, which frustrated the mom because she was adamant that he should follow this standing and sitting routine. The oldest was a girl around ten and seemed used to this by-play and displayed her future motherly behavior, even giving me the mom shrug as if saying, “What ‘cha gonna do with these kids today?”
Finally, to the mother’s utter delight, “Children’s Church” was announced and two of the three left the service. It was at this point she turns to me and says with a sigh, “I bet you’ll never sit behind us again!” At which point I re-assured her it was okay. I had three small children myself at one time. Then it dawned on me—she sees me, at my age, in some calm and relaxing season of maturity. The image of the commercial couple sitting in the claw-foot bathtub in the middle of a beautiful meadow kind of life. (Seriously, who does that?!) Oh, but no. You see, I’m a Mom in the Middle.
Moms in the middle do not have young children. Ours are grown, but they are either not married yet or have not produced grandchildren on which to dote. It’s like being in a suspended state of “Mom-not-Mom.”
Our homes are storage units for our grown children as they enjoy apartment life. Or we ARE the apartment while our kid is either looking for their dream job or trying to save money while beginning said dream job. In fact, I’m one of those moms with a roommate-child AND a storage facility. I have an entire room that is stacked with boxes just…….waiting. I’m not sure for what, really. And when I walk into this room, I feel the mocking silence of the words “U Haul” written on their sides. Ha! I WISH you would haul it right out the door, missy!
Now, the roommate-child situation is complex. Her “stuff” is sprinkled around the house, which is okay EXCEPT for in the kitchen. Kitchen cabinets can only hold so many glasses and plates and bowls and so on. Young adults seem to accumulate water bottles, coffee mugs, and wine glasses like these items are going to disappear from the face of the earth. I think it is the Millennial’s version of Great Depression hoarding. I don’t mind the “stuff” but where do I put it? Honestly, I’ve left one of her glasses in the dishwasher for so long, I think at this point I’m hoping it will just disintegrate. This situation takes some getting used to, but it does have its advantages. And when I think of some, I’ll let you be the FIRST to know.
The truth is, moms in the middle sometimes still feel this longing to see our children as children. You hear a little voice in a store yell, “Mommy” and know you will never hear someone call you that again.
Braiding hair, playing TROUBLE, singing “Baby Beluga” in the car. All sweet memories that every now and then creep up and take you by surprise because you miss it. I was as excited as the twenty-somethings that Cory and Topanga were still going strong. And that when you’re lost out there and you’re all alone, a light is waiting to carry you home to that Fuller House. Little reminders that make us smile but can leave us wistful for days gone by. And it’s not just longing for our children’s youth but for OUR “youth” as well. To be honest, we moms in the middle are beginning to feel the effects of time to our bodies and our minds. When did this happen? I guess it’s the story about how our life got flipped-turned upside down…
Most importantly, though, is that moms in the middle pray MIGHTILY that their children live a fulfilling life.
We want them to discover their passions. We celebrate graduations. We are thrilled for new boyfriends and girlfriends. We grieve along with them when relationships end. And although we may not be physically harried and exhausted like moms with young children, moms in the middle are emotionally drained. We sometimes long for the past, we sometimes are grateful the past is past, we sometimes worry for the future. All of this and menopause too! Hmm…maybe that tub in the meadow is not a bad idea!