So-Called Letting Go

Some things are easy to write and talk about and others, not so much. 
At the top of this list is the glaring fact that my kids are getting older. And not just this, but it is the first time in almost 20 years that I haven’t had a baby in the house. That’s a sentiment that raises even my eyebrows. In addition, referring to 5 year old Leopold as a baby lately has become an embarrassing habit that I recently have forced myself to break. I don’t even think I allowed him to transition to toddler-hood. He was always the baby, and now he’s a kid. A big kid—a kindergartener for crying out loud.
so-called mom
So–no babies for this mom, plus most of my kids that are now taller than me, mixed in with the fact that time definitely doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all and you have one hot matriarchal mess.
To help me cope with my new discovery, I’m laying out my obvious fears in the scrutinizing daylight:
1.  All I have known is being a mom who is deeply connected (dependent even?) to her kids. In a world where everything can be up in the air, being a mom was the one grounding thing I could be sure of. They don’t really need me as much these days—now what? Well, now I’m not so sure of anything.
2.  For the last ten years, Pippin and I have raised a blended family together. We have never known each other without our kids in the mix. When the last of the blend is off to live their own life, what will happen to ours?
3.  The idea of not being this all-systems-go mom that I have grown accustomed to, has me suddenly feeling like I don’t know my name. Sure I’m not quite 40 yet and I’m not one of those people who believes that 40 is old, but it does make me wonder: what exactly will I do when they are all gone?
4.  Did I even do a good job? 
So-Called Mom
I had my first kid, Jake, when I was 22 and I have always sworn that he was the thing that kept me on track, kept me out of trouble, kept me working harder than ever. I always say/think/feel that I was nothing before I had kids….so does that translate as the same after they fly the coop? Will I become nothing again? Bored? A trouble maker? These are real concerns of mine that anyone could flag as being fodder for a potential crisis. But I don’t want a crisis—midlife or otherwise. I want a transition point. I want to slow down time and create a gradual turn into this next stage. I want to savor this age, as awkward as it is for myself, the kids and the whole family in general. And then I want to accept that change, as scary as it is.
so-called mom
So what do I do to keep myself from doing anything drastic, like having another baby to fill this sudden void? I think I’m supposed to accept the discomfort of the void, and fill it with something else. Like self care for instance. Something I’m good at, but only after everything else is done—like most moms, I’m guessing. I consider myself a low maintenance person. It’s not that I put myself last, it’s just that I—outside of binge shopping for a self medicated distraction—I don’t always see to it that my needs are met until it’s just about too late.
So-Called Mom
Interestingly enough, that’s exactly the point—the problem— really. I have kids, seven of them: which means my needs are met through them. And now I’m realizing that isn’t sustainable.
so-called mom
So the new goal here is to slow it down, mom-wise. To make a steady transition to being a mom with kids that have grown their own wings. And to address the lack of having a baby– on my yoga mat. And come to a place where I can be OK without taking care of anyone but myself, and Pippin of course.
Switching Gears,
So-Called Mom

Why SO Many Kids?

Why SO Many Kids So Called Mom

How many kids are too many kids, you ask?

There are never too many! But then again, I’m probably the wrong person to ask since I’m 17 years into building my own army. I’m proud of having this many kids. We are a spectacle everywhere we go, even though they kind of hate it by now. Especially as they’ve gotten older. It’s embarrassing to them.

Why SO Many Kids So Called Mom

I don’t mind other people flat out gawking at us, but I do sometimes really mind the comments.

“You have your hands full.”

“Whoa. Ever heard of a condom?”

“OH THE LAUNDRY!”

And once in a blue moon, we get “Wow. How lucky you are—You are so blessed.”

That one makes all the other comments alright. But even if I got only criticism and no compliments, it wouldn’t be enough to make me stop. I have a death grip on my reasons for having so many kids. The main one being: I’m not lonely anymore.

Why SO Many Kids So Called Mom

When I was growing up I had three boys to play with: My older brother and two cousins.

I tagged along until my brother left for college. My cousins moved away. It was awkward to be a sudden only child at 16. My parents also changed. Everything was so strange and quiet. So I felt alone for years until I found someone to have a baby with. I was 21, and Jake’s dad was much older. He also couldn’t hack parenthood and bailed immediately.
Jake and I were on our own for a bit. I loved him so much, that I barely noticed his dad was gone. Jake was my lifeboat. My ticket to wholeness. Looking back all these years, I realize that was quite a bit of pressure to put on a baby. Of course, I would never do this now…would I?

Why SO Many Kids So Called Mom

Now that he’s about to turn 17, Jake thinks we have too many kids in our cramped house. But even if the house was a mansion and each kid had their own room, it would still be too many to him.

Nowadays, he’s busy making plans to get his own place, and he brings it up a lot. So much so, that I want to dig my heels in and keep him in my basement forever. I fully admit that sounds psychotic. But I’m terrified that I’m on the brink of being lonely again. And quickly, too. Even though the kids ages are spread apart (16, 15, 14, 14, 11, 9, 5), I know it’s only a matter of one of them leaving that will cause the rest of the dominoes to fall. So then, my rationale is that if I never stop having kids, I can always make sure there is someone new to fill the baby shoes I save. It’s a way for me to freeze time for awhile.

Why SO Many Kids So Called MomAnd, just between you and me, there’s a good chance that at least one of the kids – like the baby, Leopold – might never move out. He might just be the kid that still needs me so much, that the farthest he’ll move is right next door. This is a sincere hope of mine that would take some outright brainwashing. That doesn’t seem right at all, but I can’t say it doesn’t cross my mind. And while I can’t rightfully ask you not to judge me, I understand why you would.

Now there’s drawbacks to having so many kids, as you might expect. These drawbacks go much deeper than the fatalistic loads of laundry I slave over. And it has nothing to do with what a pain in the ass being pregnant is, or how bad it hurts to give birth. It’s the never resting chaos that comes with the territory: I barely have enough time for me, let alone daily one-on-one time with each of them. It’s also the pressure of having a Christmas that somehow outdoes the previous one. And how we never seem to have enough money to cover our bases. We have to call ourselves “Financially Creative” to help us feel better about the circumstances.

Even with all these cards laid out on the table, it’s all about the future of this lifestyle that has me excited–and terrified, at the same time.

Why SO Many Kids So Called Mom

In the future, when they come home from college for Christmas break, it will be fun to watch them reunited for the first time in months. In my mind, it will look like a movie. And when they come home for Christmas with their own families—it will look like a freaking Norman Rockwell painting. (We’ll need a bigger table of course.) And of course, when I’m dead and gone, I won’t know what it will look like, but I have guaranteed that each of them will always have someone be there for them. All of this excites me and makes me proud to ultimately pull it off each day.

Why SO Many Kids So Called Mom

But the future I’m terrified of is what hangs over my shoulders.

I know what you’re thinking, and I’m not ignorant to it:

“It’s time for you to So Called Stop having so many kids.”

“Gather up some So Called Confidence.”

“Get a So Called Hobby.”

These comments come from my own inner voice, too– not just the people who stand and stare at our large family and huge double grocery carts of food.

But at least I’m willing to acknowledge the loneliness I felt before I had kids, and the future I imagine without them. Is it an illness? An addiction? Insecurity? Am I being self serving? All of the above? I have somehow found a way to untangle my life by living tangled up in theirs. This is all I know.

Why SO Many Kids So Called Mom

So then, what is my answer to letting go of them? Is it having more kids to fill the void that’s left when the older ones leave? I’m not sure I can imagine my life without them in it.

Too Much Love,

So Called Mom

 

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