Sunday, April 10, 2016

My feelings that I can't talk about yet

I'm so cool with this.  No big deal, it's just part of life.  I'm very proud and maybe "just a little melancholy" about my firstborn moving out of our home and on his own.  It's not like I'm having a total mental implosion or anything.  No drama here...I'm soooooooo serene.  

Except for the feelings.  I can't even with my feelings.  Can't deal.  I'm kind of numb about it.  I've put all my feelings in a room and closed the door.  Bye-bye.  Not there.  Don't want to see or hear or feel them right now.

I mean, this is what we hope will happen...the way it's supposed to go, right?  We raise our kids to grow up and become adults and move out of the house.  It happens to every kid in every family.  This is what's normal and expected and all moms go through this.  I'm supposed to be excited for him and looking forward to this new "chapter in his life".  So why do I feel such a sense of loss?  An emptiness that I can't even talk about yet.

Maybe it's because of all this I already wrote about last August when he went off to basic training.   I should remind myself that things could be a lot worse.  Of course they could, I'm not crazy.  This isn't a tragedy and maybe it will do me good to remind myself of this and shift my focus off my feelings (that I can't talk about yet).  My son is happy.  He is excited about his "freaking awesome" new place and wants us to come over tomorrow to see it!  He's responsible and hard working and pursuing his dreams and I really am very, very proud of him.  He acts tough sometimes, but he cares deeply about his people and experiences and memories.  And, he's a believer, bless God! That has always been my greatest prayer for our kids...nothing else matters as much.

So, why can't I focus on this instead of all that?  "That", being all the ways that I imagine I have let him down and wasn't enough over the past 18 years.  Sigh.  Don't get me wrong, I don't think I'm a horrible mom and I'm not looking for praise.  I've been a pretty good mom I think, but I am also my own worst critic.  I feel responsible for everyone in our family and all their things and all their happiness.  Oh sure, I know it's not realistic to think that my husband and kids will be happy all the time, and not every disappointment is my fault.  I know this.  But underneath all the choices and circumstances of life there is this undercurrent flowing that tells me that it all depends on me. And if things don't go well with any or all of us, well - it is ultimately because I failed somehow.

All of our kids have gone through profound loss at young ages.  Much of it was beyond our control and although I do not necessarily feel responsible for their pain, I have always felt I need to be the one to make it all better.  I hold myself to nearly impossible standards as a mother.  I need to have an abundance of unconditional and unfailing love, and all the right words of wisdom, and be always patient and kind, and be the example of Jesus in their lives - enough that they will want to follow him.  Whoa.  I just realized something.  I have been trying to be their savior. Since the day they were born and/or came into my life.  It's been far too much for me, and all too often I have given up under the weight of it.  At least momentarily.  No wonder I default to feeling like a failure when things aren't going the way I'd like.  A mother is not, nor is she ever intended to be the savior for her family.

I don't think I'm alone in this.  Other moms struggle with this too, especially neurotic ones like me. When our kids struggle with self esteem, responsibility, faith, anxiety...deep down we blame ourselves because we must have done something.  Or not done something.  Even though my mind knows that is not always the case, I have a harder time convincing my heart.  Because that's where all the feelings are.  The ones I can't talk about yet.  They trip me up every time, because they are tightly intertwined with the impossible standards I have set for myself as a mom.

And how does all this relate to my son moving out on his own?  Have I gone off on a long and winding bunny trail of emotion without really knowing where I was headed, kind of like my driving? Well, give me a sec...oh yea.  It's because as the door to his future has flung open wide and he has sprinted out of the gate, I am left behind watching him go and wondering if I did it right. Was I enough?  Was I the mom he needed, and am I still going to be the mom he wants in his life?  I am reminded now, by God no doubt, that motherhood does not end when they fly from the nest.  It changes, but it does not end.  I will continue to pray for his well-being, for his faith, his friends, his safety, and his future wife.  I will call and text him and bring him food and stop over unannounced even though I have been given strict orders not to.  Just as I always have, I will continue to be mom.  I won't be perfect, and I will mess up....and I will trust Jesus to fill in the gaps, as only our Savior can.