Recently, Facebook did what it does best, which is essentially act as the scrapbook I don’t have the time or talent to make. It sent me a memory of a cute little five-year-old in a hospital gown, ready to go into surgery in a tiny hospital in Guatemala. Immediately, my heart and brain were back in that waiting room, squeezing hands with my husband and willing the door to open and the surgeon to walk through, saying all was well.
Facebook sends me these reminders all the time...how cute and tiny my people were, the funny things they did, the adventures we had. And I hold them in my heart. And I know that, ten years from now, the memories from these present years will look a lot different. There will be photos of trips with friends, lovely sunrises, adorable dogs, all manner of memes. But there won’t be the day-to-day documenting of my people’s lives. Because Moms of big kids know that the meaningful moments we share with big kids aren’t the ones we can also share on social media.
Maybe you’re a mom of a big kid, and the decisions and their consequences seem to have mushroomed even more than they proportionately should have.
Maybe the hurts and struggles of your kids are too tender to speak.
Maybe the wishes and dreams are all upside down.
Maybe your kids are nothing like you’d thought and yet….more than you’d hoped.
Maybe you’ve crossed into the new borderlands of understanding that your love for them controls none of the outcomes.
Maybe you sleep less than when they were newborn although you never thought that could be possible.
Maybe prayers in your heart and words in your soul don’t match the anxious, frustrated words that pour out of your lips into their ears.
Maybe you apologize and start over.
Maybe you have had to battle for what your child needs when the experts cannot care enough.
Maybe you fear the truth that you cannot make sure they are going to be ok. And then you set down the guilt you’ve been carrying when you accept what seems so horribly selfish at first: You can only make sure YOU are going to be ok.
Maybe you’re loving the people they have become while saying goodbye to the dreams of who you thought they’d be.
Maybe, when they were little, you allowed yourself the luxury of daydreaming….what would it be like when they graduated high school? Got their first car? Experienced the beauty and breaking of first love? Maybe now you know that daydreams and reality rarely line up. And that it is ok. After all, it was never our life to begin with; it only felt like it was, since we held it and shaped it and tried so desperately to protect it. But now we watch and we wait and we pray more than we DO anything else.
Mom of big kids, you are not alone. We are all navigating this alien landscape. We are all amazed by the hugeness of the joys and the steepness of the difficulties. There is no MOPS group for Moms of young adults, so we need each other, to remind one another of the good news, too: That having big kids means no more animated movies. No more drippy “leakproof” sippy cups. No more paying more for your babysitter than your dinner itself. It means meaningful talks together about politics and learning that your kids have more insight than you on some things. Enjoying car rides and 80s music. Getting to savor a book while they swim freely without you.
Moms, we need each other. So in case someone hasn’t told you this lately: You are raising good humans. You are doing a good job. You are exactly the mom they need. Whether or not Facebook knows.