I had the privilege of asking 10 reflective questions to moms who are “done” raising their children. (Translation: We know motherhood is never “done” or over with — but this means these moms don’t have children who live in their homes anymore, and their roles in their adult children’s lives have changed).
I decided on this topic for two reasons:
First, it is so good for us to look to the wisdom of others who have been in our shoes. Yes, times have changed, and our generations may do some things differently — but some things about motherhood are completely universal no matter the generation you’re in, how many kids you have, and so forth.
Second, we are all going to suddenly find ourselves with grown children before we can even blink or finish our ‘friggin cold coffee. I don’t know about you, but I want to give motherhood my best shot. That doesn’t mean perfection (and might mean some days I might want to fire myself from the job), but it means taking our role and using our influence for good in the lives of our children. Who will someday, leave us. 🙁 Sheesh. Motherhood — what a privilege and sacrifice!
I hope you enjoy reading the wisdom from these wonderful moms.
- Carolyn — Mom of six children, and grandmother of one
- Elena — Mom of two daughters, and grandmother of two
- Cindy — Mom of two sons, and one daughter
- Jane — Mom of one daughter and one son, grandmother of two
1. Which season of motherhood was the most fun for you? Which one was the most challenging?
“I enjoyed the elementary school days. It was so fun watching the kids both thrive and grow. So proud to see their successes! The hardest season was when my daughter was first born, when we moved to Fremont to be close to work for my husband. We were so young — it was lonely and hard.” ~Jane
“Luckily, when the kids were small, I always enjoyed everything about being a mom. I did get a ‘break’ working outside the home, so I think that helped me. As for the most fun, probably ages 3 to 10 when you are actually doing the fun stuff and they want to do it with you. The camping trips, family outings, sleepovers, etc. The most challenging was definitely the high school years. You think you know what’s going on, but in reality their struggles are so huge and sometimes too big to share with their parents. I really had no idea what was going on in their lives.” ~Elena
2. What are some of your favorite memories with your children when they were small?
“First words were my favorite memories — even if it was only babbling! It was our first communication. Also although money was tight, vacations. Even if that meant camping in the backyard. My grown kids now say they don’t remember what we didn’t have but they do remember the fun times we had together.” ~Jane
“At the top of my list, probably a Disneyland trip when my girls were 3 and 6. Sunday dinners at their grandparents’ house with all the cousins, walking to see Christmas lights as a family. Also, our first home was in a great neighborhood with lots of kids, great block parties, and lots of get-togethers. In addition, we had a yearly summer trip to North Shore Tahoe with the kids’ grandparents. We played in a pool and on the beach. Great memories!” ~Elena
3. What qualities about yourself impacted your kids in a positive way?
“I would say my unconditional love for my children. I always had their backs, and they knew they could always come to me.” ~Jane
“I always felt and exhibited a strong love for my girls, which translated into a desire to make everything happen for them, to a fault. I think I felt that I could love them through anything, struggles and all. My husband and I were both selfless, putting their needs above ours, which is not always the best thing to do, at least not to an excess. I believe that they knew they were important to us and we loved them very much.” ~Elena
4. During the seasons of raising younger kids in your home, did you find it difficult not to succumb to the comparison trap with other moms? How did that affect your parenting?
“Yes, I did fall into the trap of comparing my kids and my parenting with others. Eventually, I realized that I was not the same as other moms, and my kids had different gifts and different needs than other children. I needed to focus on what worked best for my family regardless of what other people thought.” ~Cindy
“That was really a struggle for me. My children all had learning disabilities. What most kids did naturally, mine struggled doing. I had to learn to take our victories in inches, small steps, God’s timing. It was so hard to see other families and kids develop normally. My heart broke at times. I learned to be my children’s greatest cheerleader and never give up — it may take mine longer to learn, but where there was a will, we’d find a way. <3” ~Carolyn
“I had a couple of friends who always had that “perfect” looking house, clean in every corner. I always wondered what I was doing wrong that I couldn’t be that way. You usually find that things are not what they seem. Our house might not have been spotlessly clean and organized, but we had fun. Looking back, I was a good housekeeper and was too hard on myself. Secondly, I had to work when I really wanted to be home with my kids. I was definitely envious, but looking back now, things just worked out how they were supposed to!” ~Elena
5. Who or what influenced your style of parenting the most?
“Having children with disabilities meant I needed a whole lot of mentor moms. I attended a support group for children with ADHD. Their experience and wisdom helped me get through many a day. I was so grateful for their voices in my families life.” ~Carolyn
“I guess I was influenced most by my mother. I did not want to be the same type of mother or role model I had growing up. I wanted my kids to be free to be themselves, not someone who society thought they should be. I wanted them to recognize their giftedness, what made them happy, and to know that they were fully loved and supported by their parents.” ~Cindy
6. How did you learn to foster and encourage each child’s uniqueness?
“I think it comes naturally. Your children can be like night and day, as mine are, but you love them so much and appreciate their differences. I remember hearing to never compare your children to each other. I think we tried to encourage them in whatever their interests were, be it sports or theatre or whatever. It’s important to expose them to a variety of activities so they can choose what interests them, so as not to impose our choices on them. Since I worked outside the home, we were able to afford a lot of activities. Community centers are a great resource for exposing your kids to a variety of activities at a low cost.” ~Elena
“My children were very different. I think they set the tones; I just watched and listened for cues. I don’t think I really understood at that time. My gut played an important part!” ~Jane
7. What was friendship with other moms like for you on your journey as a mom? Is there anything you would change in this area, looking back?
“I really wish I’d reached out more. It was more my issue than anything to do with them. Moms need friends. Playdates. Time to just hang out. If I could do it again, I’d wait to finish my laundry or vacuum and have more coffee with a mom friend at McDonalds.” ~Carolyn
“I have been very blessed to have a group of girlfriends, some of whom I’ve known since I was 10 years old. They have always been a rock for me, offering encouragement when necessary and guidance when requested. We still go away for long weekends once a year, just the girls. I look forward to these times and highly recommend this to young moms. You will always need your girlfriends!” ~Cindy
8. What is it like being a mom now? What parts can be challenging, and what parts do you enjoy?
“Being a mom now — I mostly enjoy being friends with my kids. I did not feel that I could take on that role as I was raising them, but I can now. The challenging part of being a mom to adult kids is keeping my nose out of their business!” ~Cindy
“Now my children are all adults. I loved being a mom. I miss all the small stuff. Family dinners, nights at the baseball field, homework, and yes…the dreaded school projects! In fact, my husband and I have decided to foster adopt. Oh, to hear… ‘Mom, can I….’ again.'” ~Carolyn
“By far, it would be to play more. Chillax. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Watch more movies together, go ride bikes, blow bubbles. I was quite the taskmaster. Thinking back… my kids needed more of me.” ~Carolyn
“If I could change anything about myself as a young mother, it would be to recognize that I was suffering from depression much earlier than I did. My primary symptom was anger. I was angry a lot. My husband’s work schedule didn’t allow him to be home with the kids as much as I would have liked. He often left the house before they woke and returned home when they were in bed. I would get frustrated and express myself by yelling at the kids. Once I began taking medication, I was able to manage my anger. I was not diagnosed with depression until after our older son was killed in a car accident and our daughter went away to college.” ~Cindy
10. What is the most important thing for a mom currently in the trenches to understand about her journey?
“I think one of the most important things for a mom in the trenches is to know that nothing is forever. Those tough times do pass. No child goes to college breastfeeding, thumb sucking, or potty training! The sleeping thing? I am still working on it with grown children. But the bottom line is, take a deep breath and take in the moment. It all happens how it’s meant to. Enjoy the ride. It’s the best!” ~Jane
“The most important thing for moms to understand is that they are not perfect. Each mom will make mistakes, but kids are resilient. Never be afraid to ask for help. Always listen to advice given and accept the advice that will work for you and your family and forget the rest. You are the expert when it comes to your children, and you know them the best.” ~Cindy
“Enjoy it. On the tough days, give yourself a whole lot of Grace. You’re doing so much right. Stop, take a God breath, gather up your kids, and try again. Sometimes on the tough days, we had dessert for dinner!” ~Carolyn
Thank you, seasoned moms, for sharing your wisdom with us. <3