life after the birds fly the coop

What I Knew Then…

“A mother’s job is to teach her children not to need her anymore. The hardest part of that job is accepting that success.”  ~Anonymous

Five years ago I wrote my first blog. I wrote about my experience launching my 3 children, as my youngest child had entered his second year of college. Hence the title of my site, fiveminusthree.  Five years later, life has changed once again, and I think my site title may need to change.

It seems, as a mother looking back over her life, that 5 years was nothing. My children advanced from babies to kindergarten, kindergarten to middle school, middle school to high school, from high school to college…and at the time, those milestones were gigantic. But in reflection, as transformative as those years were, they were still “mine.” Now, in 5 years’ time, the future years are not “mine” anymore but “theirs.”

My thoughts back then centered around, Who would they become? What kind of people will they be? Have I done them right? Who am I without them? Five super short years later, I am seeing my answers, and feeling them down to the root of my being. I witness their lives–their individual lives, not “mine” or “ours,” but “theirs.”

In the past 12 months, my 2 sons have married beautiful, strong, amazing women. And this weekend, I will be meeting my daughter in Philadelphia to shop for a wedding dress because she, too, has found her “person.” What? Am I ready for this? Was 5 years enough time for me to acclimate to the rest of my life? The answer is yes…and no.

What I knew 5 years ago was that I had 3 incredible children, in whom I’d invested my entire heart and soul into raising into what hopefully would be kind, smart, caring individuals. Isn’t that what we want for our children, after all? That they find happiness and fulfillment in life? All I wished and prayed for in nearly 30 years of motherhood was that was my children would find happiness and fulfillment in life. I don’t think I’m alone in that. So when your prayers are answered, you give thanks, right? Yes, you do. And yes, I do. But…

What’s in the but is what wrangles my heart today.

One thing I’ve learned in the past year is that life’s questions don’t first get asked of me, but of the beautiful people they have found to spend their lives with. That’s what I want. That’s what they need. That’s the way the world works. That’s what I’ve prayed for. But still…

I need to be with my girl when she finds her wedding dress. I want to be the mother that her sons still consult with. I want to be the kind of mom that her children want in their lives, even when they don’t need me.

So, that is my goal. To surround my children and and their “people” with all the acceptance they need as they make a future for themselves. I want to be able to let go and let them learn on their own the intricacies of marriage and eventual parenthood, and be the bystander…the bystander who can accept and embrace all of their decisions.

Sounds easy, right? It’s not. I want to make my mark, leave my wisdom, be a person of significance into my old age. And how do I do that? I’m not sure, but I hope as always, that my children and I learn from each other today and into the future. I learn from them, as I always have, and they learn things from me. Even the “what not to dos.”

This requires the kind of letting go I’ve never experienced before, but by the grace of God, go I.

What do I know now? I know that they know who they are and what they want and need. And I know that I trust and I believe, in them and in their “people.”

Is this the end of fiveminusthree?  Is it now fiveplusthree?  I’d love to hear from you.



Single Post Navigation

2 thoughts on “What I Knew Then…

  1. I’m not where you are quite yet, but I can see it on the horizon. To have two marriages in one year, and another about to happen – that’s a LOT to take in in a short amount of time. But you know what? You’ll handle it, most likely with aplomb, and you won’t so much find a new normal as a new normal will find you. I say leave yourself open to all the possibilities this new chapter of your life offers. Let them come to you and see what happens. It’s a great adventure.

  2. Glenn Bergum on said:

    Mary, I like the FivePlusThree better. Addition is so much better than subtraction, particularly when you’re talking about your loved ones.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: