How many times did you tell your children to share, be kind to others, and to put others before themselves? Then too, didn’t you lead by example? It didn’t matter how tired you were when one of your children developed an earache or the flu and woke up in the middle of the night. It didn’t matter how busy you were when they needed to get to practice. It also didn’t matter how “stressed” you were when they needed to talk about their latest teen crisis. Regardless of what other responsibilities you had to do, you made time to tend to the needs of your family.
Well, things have changed just a bit. The children you nurtured, coddled, and told to “grow up” did just that. They grew up, but then isn’t that what you taught them to do? Now they’re out and about and making decisions on their own.
I’ve often heard it said: “Little children, little problems … big children; big problems.” I’ve found that to be quite true. However, although you never stop being their parent, and although you can still be there for them when they ask for advice or they need a babysitter for a few hours, your role has changed. Not only are you no longer needed in the same ways as you once were, the times you’re now needed are fewer and farther between.It’s at this time that some “over 50” parents become intrusive and interfering. They refuse to let their children live their own lives and are constantly “mothering” them. It might be through daily phone calls or visits, or even emails reminding them to do or not do certain things, just as they did when they were children. These parents just won’t cut that last apron string. They have more time on their hands now and miss the way it used to be. Cut them loose! As the kids of today say, “Get a life!”
This is freedom. It’s time to reinvent “you”. It’s not selfish to finally do all the things you’ve put on the back burner for so long. Remember that tropical vacation you couldn’t afford to take? How about the dance lessons or pottery classes you put off? Did you want to go back to school to finish your degree? Now you can!
Learn to play an instrument, enter your vegetables or flowers in the fair and win that blue ribbon, or volunteer at the hospital. Do you have any idea how many lonely people there are in hospitals and elder care facilities that crave visits … from anyone?
Learn a new language, go fishing, restore that old car, repaint your house, or take art lessons and paint a picture. You finally have the time to follow your interests and grow again. Don’t tell me you haven’t felt stagnant from time to time, or wondered if there wasn’t more to life than changing diapers, paying bills, and running errands. There is, and now you can experience it.
The very first thing I did when our youngest moved into HIS place was to sleep in! After seven children and almost thirty years of getting up early, I enjoyed the morning by sleeping until almost 9:30. What a joy!
So, appreciate your freedom and the little things in life. Take a walk along the river, join a bowling team, go golfing, become a scout leader, coach a kids’ baseball or basketball team, do scrapbooking, sing in the church choir, join a local drama club, or maybe even train your dog. Celebrate who you are and the things you’ve experienced and learned. You have much to offer others without being tied to your kids. Become known by your first name again, not just by whose spouse you have or whose mother or father you are.
I’ve been proud to be known as “his wife” or “her mother”. However, people can get lost in a family. So be excited about who you are as an individual and contribute your time, know-how, gifts, and experiences. It’s not selfishness. It’s an earned reward for past service!
By Debe Lange