I’m not Mommy anymore. Just Mom. I’m not sure when it even happened, but it did. While out with my boys recently, I heard a child call out, “Mommy!” and was struck by the fact that the small voice was definitely not looking for me. My subconscious filter that, in a public place, used to instantly compare a “Mommy!” call with my own kids’ exact pitch and tone didn’t even seem to listen.
This realization struck me, fittingly enough, as I was lounging poolside while the boys were splashing and swimming on our last vacation. It’s a nice perk of graduating to Mom, among others. Nobody needs me in the middle of the night. Diapers are a somewhat distant memory. I can go places like sporting events with my family and carry just a small handbag, no Goldfish or small toys required. Travel is a relative breeze.
It’s liberating, of course, but I must admit I did enjoy the Mommy days, too. I treasured the peace of holding a baby I had just rocked to sleep. I loved the mirth of toddler laughs – when the same silly thing was funny over and over and over. I adored the feeling of holding their small hand in mine as we walked along.
They don’t need to hold my hand in parking lots anymore. They don’t need me to sing them to sleep. They can dress themselves, and they can get their own snacks. They prefer playing with their friends than with me. They manage for seven hours a day at school completely without my assistance.
I’m glad for all these age-appropriate measures of independence. But the truth is, when they were small, I used to be able to fix everything. Hungry, tired, hurt, or bored? I could reliably feed, lull, soothe, or entertain. It wasn’t always easy, especially at first, but I learned a few tricks, as moms do. My own mom – a wise, wise woman – taught me many.
As children grow, though, so does the complexity of their problems. Not all the boo-boos can be kissed and made better. Schoolwork, peer relationships, self-image: moms do their best to help but can’t fix it all the way mommies can when their little ones’ needs are simpler, although more round-the-clock.
At the outset, it’s a frustrating revelation. All these years of being in charge of countless aspects of our children’s lives, it seemed quite often like the way things turned out was a direct result of our decision making, for better or worse. The books and web sites and blogs and fellow mothers proclaimed the path to follow: which baby contraptions you absolutely need, which foods to introduce first, what your toddler should have exposure to (sign language! music! gymnastics!). It’s a dizzying amount to digest these days, but we’ve been assured that we can shape our children with our correct choices.
Moms, we’ve been misled. For all we are in charge of, and all we are responsible for, we are not ultimately in control of what we spend more time worrying about than all else: who our children become. The older they get, the more I’ve come to realize that it is God who is in control. Our job is to nurture our children and love them for just exactly who they are, the wonderfully unique individuals He created them to be.
I may be just Mom to my kids these days. But at least I know now they are not just mine. They are His. They may rely on me for less, but I rely on Him more. And that knowledge is an even better perk than sleeping through the night.