by Theresa Newman, Whole30 Coach who shares her advice to moms of littles struggling through the long days of early parenting.
Thirty two years ago my father walked me down the aisle, lifted my bridal veil, kissed my cheek and said, “It’s time for you to fly, little bird.”
In what seemed like the blink of an eye, I stood at the end of an aisle last April and watched my husband walk my beautiful daughter towards her husband. When they turned the corner and I caught my first glimpse of them, I felt as if I could not breathe. This was just another watershed moment of letting my children go; it has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.
In the trenches
You are probably in the thick of it–the never-ending diaper changes, laundry, meal-making, nose-wiping and the exhaustion that comes with being a young mom. You feel like it’s thankless work and would do anything for some peace and solitude. I know; I’ve been there. But one day, the day will actually come when it’s time to say goodbye, and a piece of your heart will walk out that door. How do you prepare for that moment with a full heart knowing this is just part of life and you will be fine when they leave?
I confess, I did not do this well. When my oldest was preparing to go to college, I cried his entire Senior year of high school. The thought of our family being torn apart by his departure seemed unfathomable. When I set the dinner table for the first time after he left with only four plates instead of five, I crumbled into a puddle of tears. I’d like to say it gets easier with each child, but it really doesn’t because your relationship with each baby is unique and special. The hardest departure is definitely the last because when that nest is actually emptied you will look around and think NOW WHAT??
My last is graduating from college in three months, and now I have a little more perspective. So pull up a chair, and let’s imagine I’m sharing my motherly advice to you over a warm cup of coffee.
Don’t wish the days away
Everything is momentary, and time is fleeting. This too shall pass even though you feel like you are in a never-ending battle most days. It will come to an end sooner than you think. Treasure these moments. Don’t be distracted. What can you learn from the struggles and challenges facing you today?
Preserve your marriage above all else
If you’re in a relationship, it can be all too easy to let it fall to the sidelines in these busy days. We invested in our relationship by going away alone every six months, marriage retreats and consistent date nights. It was hard to get babysitters! It was hard to leave the kids and make time for us, but I am so thankful that we did.Your babies will leave you and you do not want to look at your spouse and think, “Oh crap, now we are stuck with each other.” Our empty nest has actually been a beautiful time of adventures, quiet nights alone and a deeper love for one another because we prioritized our relationship while our children were still at home.
Have something of your own to look forward to
I was a stay-at-home mom for 27 years and loved every minute of it. The shock of the children leaving hit me especially hard because I had nothing of my own and had to process who I was apart from my children. Becoming a Whole30 Coach and starting my little business was something that I did just for me and it has filled a void in my heart knowing that I am still worthy and have something to offer others. Whether it’s a business, working out or pursuing your passions, carve out time for yourself and keep those interests alive. Word of caution–don’t spread yourself too thin. You cannot do all the things without sacrificing something. Balance is huge and those Instagram moms who look like they are doing it all with ease are only showing you what they want you to see.
Allow yourself a time of grieving
Letting go is hard. Don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t. There are not enough books or articles on this transition. Like any major life shift it will take time and healing. I dealt with my grief silently and alone. I now wish I would have gone through therapy to help me understand all of the emotions that I had to process. It’s real and it hurts.
So kiss your babies and press on, knowing you are molding tomorrow’s leaders. It is a daunting task, but you are making a difference and your work matters greatly. One day when your little birds are ready to fly, you can be at peace and look forward to the next phase of the relationship you will share with them. Always their mom, but now their friend, too.
Theresa Newman is a Whole30 Certified Coach and a Scout & Cellar Clean Crafted Wine Consultant. More importantly she is the mom of three amazing adult children and their spouses and grandmom to two little girls.You can connect with her on Instagram and Facebook or on her website, www.theresanewman.com.