Jam is a second grader. Can you believe it? According to my archives, I started this blog over 3 years ago before she even began kindergarten. I remember writing about those trying times and wondering what the future would hold.
Well, I guess it held second grade because here we are.
Last year, with Jam being hospitalized and all of us being extremely traumatized from that ordeal, we decided to ease into the school year. We started late, took our time, didn’t sweat the BS, and for the most part, everything went smoothly. Would you believe that this year has been the total opposite? Like the complete opposite of last year. Between both my husband and I starting new jobs, Jam starting school, plus some of other family drama that spilled over into the fall, this school year has been quite the challenge. I’ve had to set some boundaries that I’ve never had to set before and it’s difficult. Challenges that I never thought I’d have to deal with are starting to come to ahead and I’m not sure how to respond. I guess we’ll just have to see how that plays out.
One thing that I’ve struggled with that I’ve never really struggled with before is this desire to mother, to nurture even. That has never been my personality. Like never. When I was pregnant with Jam my mother assured me that my motherly instinct would “kick in any day” and well, mother was wrong. Those motherly instincts, whatever they were, never came. Until recently. Lately I’ve been yearning to, I don’t know, do more maybe? Be more present? Spend more time? I see Jam growing and finding her way and I feel like I’m missing out.
I consider myself to be an involved parent. I stay up to date on what’s going at school, maintain open communication with her teachers, she and I have “girl chats” on a regular basis and all of that, but I’m still suffering from FOMO. In a week (or it seems), she went from falling over on her bike and barely being able to ride, to speeding fearlessly down the sidewalk. It’s amazing! But where was I when all this took place? Selfish, I know. I should be celebrating her accomplishment. But seriously, how dare she learn to ride without me?!
This feels like a gateway to what’s to come. Eventually she’ll be going off with her friends, giggling and sharing secrets that she *thinks* I’ll never know about and I’m not okay with that. I know I should be, but I’m not. Sometimes I think about how in just a few, short years, we’ll be settling her in at college and going our separate ways, and I can’t imagine that day without having this weird, sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. She’ll be living a life without me and while I’ll be proud of her for striking out on her own and fumbling her way through life, I’ll still feel like I’m missing out. Missing out on time with her. Like I’ve been laid off from my first and only job and I don’t know who I am without it because so much of my life has been spent trying to impress the boss, working long, hard hours and finally making my way up through the ranks, only to be let go. Who am I without this “job?”
This is not mom guilt.
I know what mom guilt is, and this is not it. I enjoy working, blogging, and providing for my family. I get a lot of joy and pleasure from those things. I don’t feel guilty about having and doing those things because they’re a part of me. What I’m feeling right now is sheer overwhelm with knowing that my baby, while still my baby, is not really my baby anymore. Every day, she gets a little more independent. When I think about the fact that my mother is always asking me what’s going on, to which I respond by giving her a terribly condensed version of where and who I am in life, I can’t help but cringe at the thought that in a few years the tables will be turned. They’re already turning and it’s my baby at the other end, not my mother.
This is just a really, really weird place for me right now. And I’m not sure how to navigate it.