A friend recently posted a blog post encouraging moms of older kids to "hang in there."
That post was the first I had seen. Usually all mom posts are about how to deal with toddlers and the lack of sleep that comes with motherhood! It was refreshing to read a blog post written to a mom like...me!
So, since I am a mom of a young adult, I thought I'd share my wisdom to encourage other moms out there....
A Different Kind of Lonely
When your kids are little, your life tends to center around them. Their lives also center around you. It's a constant push and pull that, oddly enough, works! Now that we have social media (it didn't exist when my son was little...), moms around the world are compelled to document their kids' lives on social media daily. Funny stories, photos, and videos are posted regularly.
And then comes adolescence.
Now what? Kids no longer talk to you. They don't want to be around you as much. They need you for rides to soccer games, volleyball tournaments, concerts, and Burger King, but that's about it. Their schedules are so full, you rarely eat dinner together at the table anymore. It's an exciting time to see your kids form a life of their own and embark on adventures. It's fun to sit back and watch them discover new things about themselves. But, at the same time, it feels strange not to document it all on social media, doesn't it?
But do your best not to. Now is the time to respect their privacy. Most teens are on Snapchat more than any other social network because moms and dads don't use Snapchat as much as Instagram or Facebook. For good reason, moms. I highly recommend you NOT use Snapchat or Tumblr. Trust me. I have had former students (now teens) recommend to me that I not visit these social platforms. Trust me. Stick to Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. You'll thank me.
The result of all these changes will be a different kind of lonely that perhaps you didn't expect. I know it hit me hard, but not as hard as some moms. Why didn't it hit me hard?
A Different Kind of Life
I wasn't affected as much because I had decided to make a change myself. Now that my son was pulling away from us as he approached adulthood, I decided to make use of social media in a different way: To document my life!
I created five (yes, FIVE) Facebook pages about my passions: Art, writing, running, my books, and my personal page. In doing so, I have had the chance to meet people from all over the world and document my life for my son, friends, and family to see. I have my own blog and also blog on here on Goodreads. I post images on Pinterest and stories on Instagram.
Social media can be dangerous, this is true. But it can also be a wonderful way to document your life. Try it!
It's Your Turn
I have found the best way to process through the loneliness that can come with growing kids is by turning that focus somewhere else. I'm an artist, writer, and a teacher, so I blog about my passions. I post on social media about my passions. I want my son to see that a mom's life doesn't end when her children become adults, In fact, I want him to see that women are more than just wives and moms. I want him to see that we do things, interesting things, and enjoy living our lives, too!
Isn't that what we want them to do with their lives?
Don't worry, Moms. They might be ignoring you now. They might be moodier now, they might be sleeping a lot more now, but soon they will begin to need you again. It won't be on the same level as when they were four or five, but it does happen. I remember when my son, who was about to purchase his first car, asked me, "Just how do you buy a car anyway?" It was fun explaining the process to him. I, frankly, was impressed that I even knew how to explain it to him! See? Parenting an older kid can be fun.
Our young adult son asks us so many questions about life. Sometimes he listens to us and sometimes he doesn't (Tattoos. Don't get me started...). But he still comes around to visit us. I cherish those times. Of course, as he is talking to me, I picture him in my mind as that little boy telling me all about his day at school. I would never tell my son this because it would be met with an eye roll.
Someday he will be a dad and won't that be fun to watch? I look forward to that time.
Moms out there, be patient. Find a new normal. As your teens pull away, it's your chance to form a life of your own and that's okay! It's not selfish to tell your teen you can't drive them somewhere because you have a date, a girls' night out, a nail appointment, or a half marathon in the morning. Trust me, I know this as fact: They will survive hearing the word "no."
Most of all, through all of this, your kids will see that mom actually has a life apart from them. Imagine that!
Your turn: What are your passions? How have you used social media to document your life apart from your kids? How is that important to you?
R. A. Douthitt is an award-winning author of middle grade books. She is currently working on her women's inspirational novel, Leaving Eden, to be release later this year. To learn more about her books, visit her website: www.thedragonforest.com
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