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To the moms of older children…

There are so many wonderful articles written for moms of younger children. Stay at home moms. First time moms. Childcare for working moms. Breastfeeding. Bottle feeding. To vaccinate or not to vaccinate. Potty-training. Teething. Tantrums.

What about us?

Pinterest is loaded with ideas for themed birthday parties and what to do with Elf on the Shelf. Science Fair project ideas. How-to-cut-sandwiches-into-cute-shapes-so-that-lunch-won’t-be-boring ideas. Fun crafts to do with your children ideas. 

What about us?

Moms don’t stop being moms when kids are older. When they’re old enough to stay home and we don’t need sitters anymore, we are still moms. When our kids get sick, we have to decide whether or not to call out of work to take care of them or if they can stay home alone. Well it’s just a small fever. She isn’t throwing up, so she should be ok alone. The guilt is like a weight in the pit of our stomachs while we try to do our job as employees, when we really want to be home doing our job as moms instead. We pretend not to be worried. But we are.

Instead of making sure we arrange play-dates so that our littles are socialized by the time they start Kindergarten, we wonder if anyone will sit next to our children in the school cafeteria at lunch today. Will someone tease them? Middle school is a brutal time and socializing is everything to them. Hopefully, he won’t come home sad today.

When the phone rings at the office, we cringe as we see on the caller ID that someone from the school is calling. Our hearts race as we pick up the phone. Is it the nurse? Or maybe the counselor? Maybe it’s the math teacher to tell me he is missing homework again today. Oh thank goodness! It’s a positive call from a teacher to let me know about a perfect test score!

When our daughters ask to go to a friend’s house for a sleepover, we screen all of the worst case scenarios in our minds. Will there be a responsible adult there at all times? Is there an older brother or creepy uncle or alcoholic dad? Are there any dangerous dogs in the home? Is it clean? Having older children means that we have to let them out of our comfort zones and teach them independence. 

Those Friday night skating rink sessions and bowling alley gatherings have started. And we worry. They want us to drop them off. Alone. We hope someone doesn’t convince them to sneak off to another location. Or kidnap them. We wonder if they aren’t really too young for the things they might see. I know that kids make-out in the dark corners of those places.

Then, there are shopping sprees at the mall. And make-up and nail salons and requests for highlighted hair. And homecoming dances at school. But there are also hurt feelings when no one wants to go to the dance with them. We sometimes have to watch them silently suffer while they envy their peers. I really wish I could afford to buy her those shoes.

Just as all of those things become the new norm, there will still be Friday nights at home too. We hear the video games blaring from the bedroom. We hear siblings teasing and retaliating. “Mom can we have a snack?” And we sigh with relief because they’re still sort of little.

We are still moms when our kids don’t need us as much. 

Before you know it, it’s senior year. We worry about whether or not he will graduate high school. I hope he wasn’t serious about dropping out. And when she exhausts herself with advanced academic classes and clubs. And marching band practice, private lessons, and symphony rehearsal, which take up most of the evenings of the week. We hope she isn’t doing too much, but we are so very proud.

It’s summer vacation and they sleep past noon. When they wake, they whine and complain about boredom. And do absolutely nothing all day while we work. We wonder where we went wrong. Maybe it’s my fault for not giving them enough chores to do when they were younger. We wish they would just once ask us if they can do anything to help us. 

When they turn 16 and prepare for getting a driver’s license, we worry. When they are over 18 and we can no longer know what goes on behind closed doors of a doctor’s office, we worry. We wonder about the things they could be hiding from us that we have absolutely no control over anymore. We wonder if they know how to make good decisions like we taught them.

Being mom never gets easier. It only gets different. Some of us can’t wait to be finished raising them. Some of us will feel depressed over the thought of the nest becoming empty. None of us are wrong.

The worry moms feel is the same, but the things we worry about are different. On top of that, we question whether or not we have done a good job. Did we do enough? The anxiety and self-doubt doesn’t go away, but we keep being the best moms that we can. 

Because we are still moms, and if we got this far, we are good enough. 

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