as i wander solo through the airport, wading into groups of business people and families, i realize how frighteningly reliant i am on having the girls to organize, take care of and hide behind.
when i’m alone, my arms are less piled upon, i answer for just one person and my eyes only need to look one way. it should be total freedom but instead, it feels like i’m missing something essential.
it’s hard for me to admit this but i like being able to use them as a distraction and a decoy. i have my own life of course – i consider myself an extremely independent and social person. i never used to worry about walking into a restaurant or party alone. and this was long before having the ability to stare into a palm-sized screen to pretend i’m busy and important.
but since becoming a mama – and more pointedly, a single mama – i have adopted a bit of a dependency on being their third wheel. i use them in a way that i never imagined i would ever use another person.
don’t get me wrong, i actually quite like my kids and i would choose to spend time with them either way. i think.
but they have easily become a valid excuse for skipping out on events, staying in for the night (and the next night and the next night after that), a reason to make a grumpy salesperson lighten their mood (and therein making my shopping experience more enjoyable), and a helpful nudge into places that intimidate or territory that is elusive.
what’s easier than pushing agenda?
“my girls would love to see this thing that you sell/make, they want to ask you a question/are curious what this means, i have to go see about a thing because my kids are really interested…”
they are my door opener, my line mover-upper, and my perfect excuse and answer all rolled into two.
but kids grow up and move out and although it seems like forever in the future, it isn’t. it’s a blip and then it’s here. it recently occurred to me that those little crutches i carry, will at some point be pulled out from under me and i better have my shit together by then.
i suppose it’s why a lot of marriages fizzle out once the kids are independent. all of a sudden, you have to look at this other person and really face them. it’s possible (for some couples) that they haven’t really talked in years. and now, all of those silent nights are suddenly sitting like a mountain between them. i always thought it would be the one thing that i would be able to avoid.
it turns out, single parents have their own version of that. once my kids are grown and gone, i will only have me.
can i divorce myself?
i suppose finding peace within ourselves and our own lives is a skill we all need to learn, kids or no kids. we don’t have to run at breakneck speed and constantly keep care of every other person, to feel like we’re worthy of this life.
learning to let go of the need to be needed can be liberating.
and allowing ourselves to really lean into the quiet, the unknown or the plain ol’ intimidating can actually help us grow.
i think my mom got to a certain age and figured that she had learned everything she needed to know. she was who she was and there was absolutely no need for change.
i definitely see how that can happen but i also believe in the ebb and flow of life and just because i depend on my kids right now, doesn’t mean i always will. finding a balance and being willing to change along with it – no matter what age – seems pretty essential for growth.
so i’ll just add it to my never-ending list of things to do.
and in the meantime, if you see a grown woman clutching the ankles of her children as they try to live a life of their own… just keep walking. i’ll figure it out eventually.