When my kids were young and had immediate needs all the time, I longed for “me time.” I simply wanted to take a bath, read for a few minutes or just sleep.
As they got older, their needs changed. I became a driver — driving them to and from activities and social engagements. Now, it feels like they don’t need me very much anymore.
This is the first summer my older daughter is driving. She and her younger sister are off doing whatever teenagers do —shopping, going to the pool, getting frozen yogurt. Many nights, I come home to an empty house or, I’ve just dropped my briefcase on the kitchen counter, and I hear the door slam.
“Bye Mom, we’re going to a movie,” one of them chimes. “Love you.”
Then, I see a flash of white, my daughter’s car heading out of the driveway.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m thrilled they are getting along and doing things together. It’s something I had always dreamed about after years of watching their sibling spats. I’m also happy they are becoming independent and don’t rely on me for every single thing. In addition to taking care of her sister, my older daughter has been doing errands for me this summer, which is a huge weight off my shoulders. Now I’m just trying to figure out where I fit it now.
During our recent vacation to the beach, they would take off together on a regular basis, sometimes in the car, sometimes on foot or on bikes. I never saw these moment coming and was always waiting and on standby, expecting them to need me for something, which they rarely did.
A couple of times, I actually felt a little melancholy, not knowing exactly what to do with these unexpected pockets of time. There was also a part of me that wished someone would invite me to go shopping or get frozen yogurt. Like every other stage in parenting, I realize this is a transition, a time for me to re-connect with my independent self.
And while I’m pretty sure, as a parent, I will be on standby for the rest of my life, I will also have more time in the future to pursue some of the things I put aside temporarily when I became a mom. But if you’re going, I do like frozen yogurt. It’s always nice to be invited …
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.