Sad about letting go of little kids
Question of the Day:
“How do I get over that feeling of loss for my little kids?
I miss them being small, loving and playful, always wanting me to be with them. I had so much fun when they were little, playing outside, doing crafts, even just hanging out at home watching movies.
Now that I have a teen and tween, I feel like they don’t want or need me around. They would rather be with their friends which I know is normal and I’m happy they are enjoying activities, school and friends, but I miss my time with them so much.
I’m not sure how to fit into their lives right now. I know they are just growing up like they should be doing. And don’t get me wrong, I’m very proud of them and how independent they have become. But I would love to have them run up and ask me for a hug or grab my hand and ask me to play a game one more time!”
The other day, my almost 13 year old was at school and sent me a text that he forgot his basketball bag for practice after school. I work from home so I said I could drop it off at lunch hour. I gathered up everything he would need, put it in his bag and dropped it off at school. Afterwards I felt so happy and useful. Doesn’t that sound crazy?”
Parent Educator Answer:
First of all, no, it does not sound crazy at all. Many moms can relate because it feels good to be needed and valued.It’s a huge part of our lives! It is ironic because the other podcast topics I was considering for today were: I’m not cut out for servitude and No matter how much I give, they still want more so it is nice for moms to hear that they might actually miss the constant demands someday.
There is a movie on Netflix called Otherhood about 3 moms whose kids have grown up and moved out. They describe motherhood as a long, slow breakup. “That sinking feeling that you are being broken up with on a gradual but daily basis.”
You go from a very loving and intense relationship spending lots of time fully enmeshed in each other’s lives, to slowly being made redundant. Not fired, just demoted. As your kids become more responsible and independent, your role in their lives diminishes. We go from playing the leading role, to supporting lead, bit player, or worse—the antagonist.
It can be difficult and sad. The first thing to become aware of is the difference between clean pain and dirty pain. Clean pain feels pure and appropriate for the situation. Clean sadness helps us move forward. Dirty sadness keeps us stuck in wishing things were different than they are.
If you have a miscarriage, there is some healthy and healing clean grief to experience. As the tears flow, we acknowledge the loss and let go of the dreams we had for this child’s future that will never come to be.
Examples of dirty pain around a miscarriage would be thoughts like, “Bad things always happen to me.” “God is punishing me for drinking that beer.” Our thoughts can perpetuate sadness, making it last forever.
The purpose of sadness is to identify something we are ready to let go of.
You might say you aren’t ready to let go of your little kids—that you want them to be young again—but notice how those thoughts make you feel. When we long for something that is impossible to have we suffer unnecessarily.
What we want to do is examine: which aspects of the past are you ready to say goodbye to and which aspects do you want to bring with you into your future?
Grab your tissue box and practice letting go of the past right now:
I say goodbye to the child who always wanted me with them.
I say goodbye to being your number one favorite person.
I say goodbye to playing games with you whenever I want.
I say goodbye to managing your calendar and choosing your friends.
I say goodbye to managing your school work.
I say goodbye to being able to hug you whenever I want.
I say goodbye to holding your hand.
I say goodbye to doing arts and crafts whenever I want.
Life Coaching Answer: What gets in our way from letting go?
Our higher self is trying to bring our attention to something that is important for us to take forward.
When you feel resistance to letting go, it may be because there is an ELEMENT you need to hold on to and carry into your future. If you don’t want to let go of doing arts and crafts with your kids, it may be because your spirit craves more artistic, creative time. Or maybe you love teaching young children to create things with their hands. You’ll want to take a deeper dive into what, exactly, you do not want to let go of.
The best way to figure this out is with a question I got from Bev Barnes in episode 101 when she coached me on finding my soul’s calling. She asked me “What aspect of parenting your children are you most proud of?” For some reason, this question illuminates a part of our essence, our spirit, that doesn’t want to be let go of. To my surprise, I said, the thing I was most proud of was the parties I hosted throughout the years. Bev pointed out that me, creating in person events and experiences for others was an important part of me feeling like me. When letting go of your kids, it’s important not to let go of the parts of ourselves that we loved the most.
I asked another client what she was most proud of during her time as mom and she talked about how confident and sure of herself she was. She felt very attuned to her child and confident she was making the right decisions, even when family and friends disagreed. Of course she doesn’t want to let go of feeling confident and self-assured! She felt like the best version of herself back then. Her higher self doesn’t want to grieve the loss of the best time of her life, it wants her to learn how to be the best, most confident version of herself now and into the future!
I asked Kelly what she was most proud of when her kids were little and she said balance.
“When the kids were little, I worked hard at balancing my full time office job, parenting, time for myself, time with my husband and time with my friends. We had a good structure and it worked. As the kids grow, my time with the kids is less because they no longer need me at each event. I spend more time sitting in the car than anything. And they have so many things going on in separate places that I have less time with my husband. We are usually split up between kids. My friends are in the same boat, too busy to get away for some adult time.”
There are two ways our higher self tries to get our attention. Yearning and discontent. Kelly is yearning for the younger kids because she feels discontent with her life as a chauffeur. She longs for the balance she had back then.
Once you realize what you are yearning for, it’s easier to create it. We can’t make the kids smaller, but you can get more involved with the parents on the sidelines of the basketball games. If you are sitting in the car, you can use that time to talk on the phone to a friend. You could ask another mom to go for a walk while the kids have practice or plan a team bonding event for parents and kids.
When you find yourself wanting to hold onto the past, ask yourself what specifically you miss that you want to bring forward into your future.
Raising tweens and teens is a continuous process of letting go. By letting go, you make space for new and wonderful things to come in.
Supermom Kryptonite: Assigning credit to others
It’s pretty common to assign credit to others. Kelly thought having little kids around her made her feel balanced, but if that was true, every mom would feel balanced while working full time and raising little kids. She gave the credit to her life circumstance rather than owning that it really was SHE who created the work/life balance.
When we assign credit to others with a thought like, “I was successful at that job because I had a great boss and a supportive team” it sounds wonderful but it makes us a victim of our circumstance. In the future, when we don’t have a great boss or supportive team, we feel powerless. Better to own your part in your success. “I made the most of that supportive environment and used it to be successful in my job.”
If you think you can’t be balanced because of the age of your children, you give away your power to make the changes your spirit is calling for.
Supermom Power Boost: Create a higher vision for yourself after the kids leave.
I was never the mom to cry at graduations or milestone events in my kids’ lives. Everyone knew which were moms to pass tissues to, knowing the waterworks would be flowing. So, me being me, I asked them, “What are you thinking about that makes you so sad?” Reliably, these sentimental moms would be thinking about the past. How cute and nervous they were on their first day of school. What it felt like to hold their hand as they crossed the street. Enjoying the camaraderie of other parents while working on school projects, field trips and parties.
There is nothing wrong with being sentimental but if you are tired of feeling sad, try imagining a fun and exciting future.
It’s easy to imagine your kids growing up having exciting new experiences, meeting new people and discovering new adventures. It’s harder to imagine OURSELVES doing these things so it might take a little practice.
What’s something you loved doing before you had kids that you might like to rekindle? I used to love dancing, traveling with girlfriends, and spending time alone in nature.
What’s something you would love to do more of once your kid starts driving? Having a teen and tween means a lot of time spent driving around town. Use this time to start creating a vision for your future that you are excited about. What will be great about having your kids out of the house? What would you like your relationship with your adult kids to look like?
I asked my facebook folks to tell me some of the things they enjoy doing with their adult children that they didn’t do much of when they were young. Here are their answers and ideas to get you started:
- Biking, roller blading, golfing, kayaking, paddleboarding, skiing, etc.
- Having a beauty and shopping day in the city
- Cooking, trying new foods, and game nights
- Beer and wine tasting
- Traveling and concerts.
- Camping, hiking, boating
You can enjoy these teen and tween years by letting go of the past, bringing forward the things that are most important to you, and creating a vision for the future that excites you.
Quote of the day:
“You cannot explore new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” Andre Gide