"You're moving away from being a 'mom' mom to a 'cool' mom," my oldest son Tommy told me this past weekend.
A warning bell clanged in my head at the term "cool mom." Why would Tommy think I was becoming like those moms who bought beer for their teenagers, or let them do whatever they wanted to do so their kids would like them? That's what "cool" mom meant to me.
Seeing the concerned look on my face, he quickly added, "I mean...before, everything you did was for us. Now you're doing things for yourself...things you had put off doing. Like going back to school."
Relieved, I laughed. I could still hear him telling me in his senior year of high school that all of us moms weren't going to know what to do with ourselves once he and his friends left home because they were "our whole lives." I had assured him we'd be okay. We had plans.
And it's true. Even before his high school graduation four years ago, I had given lots of thought to my future empty-nest. Since then, I've started back to college...again...(one class at a time, but it's better than nothing!), made exercise a priority, and set aside time each day for writing. The drums Tom surprised me with get dusty sometimes, but every once in awhile, when I get the house to myself, I turn up the stereo, pick up the drumsticks, and just unwind.
I think it's good for my kids to see that I have outside interests, and that my life will continue even when my nest is empty. I want them to know there's no time or age limit on pursuing your dreams, so when they reach the inevitable curves in their paths, they keep on dreaming.
But my baby, Kendall, still has another year left in high school. I worry that, once again, I am hurrying to get to the next stage of my life and, consequently, not taking the time to appreciate the stage she is in or the time I have with her right now.
So I will be patient and enjoy this next year with her. I won't set aside my interests, but I won't let them get in the way of our time together, or keep me from supporting her in soccer, marching band, and cross-country, and helping her navigate college applications and career decisions.
After all, I've waited this long...what's another year? I'll try to remember what my Daddy warned me a few years ago... you can't get this time back, and you'll wish for it once it's gone.