Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Learning to Walk

Every mother eventually learns about those first tottering steps: the unsteadiness, the reaching, the need to pull back so as to allow for that budding independence. But these are my steps I’m talking about. Now that my children are nearly grown, I must learn how to maneuver around them again, and like all the steps in motherhood, it isn’t easy.

I’ve noticed that fathers are so different. They will automatically pull back as soon as the children are grown, while some women seem to cling to that mother role for the rest of their lives. And of course I understand why. We mother with our souls. It becomes such a fundamental part of our identity, giving it up means giving up a big part of who we are. But I’ve never wanted to be one of those rigid mothers who can’t give up the Alpha Mom role, who wants to direct her children’s choices and behavior for the rest of her life. So now that my children are older, I’m trying—in my own wavering way—to find where I should rightfully stand and walk that line.

And it’s tough. It’s the line where I try to compliment my son...while making sure the weight loss was intentional. It’s the one where, when he asks me what he should do involving a major life decision, I tell him it’s not up to me and ask him questions I hope will get him to figure it out for himself. And then I try to support his decision.

Of course there are benefits. I lived a long time on the “Mom to Children” side of the line, and it was exhausting. I was a single mother long before it was official, and life was considerably harder than I think anyone knew. Now I’m more than ready to kick back and relax a bit and focus on my own wants and needs.

Plus I’m finding that on the “Mother to Adults” side, there are these fun, pleasant people whose company I enjoy without all the work and responsibility. Just yesterday I spent some time in the car with one of them, and I found myself convinced once again that my soul has known their souls for all eternity, and they’ve just allowed me to play the mom this time. And what a precious gift. I try to cup it so gently in the palm of my hands so that they will always know how deeply I respected that—and them.

That’s life, I guess—a constant process of redrawing the line and then learning to dance around it. How lucky that drawing and dancing are two of life’s greatest joys.

Nobody objects to a woman being a good writer or sculptor or geneticist if at the same time she manages to be a good wife, good mother, good-looking, good tempered, well-groomed, and unaggressive. ~Leslie M. McIntyre


  1. No matter how old our kids get, we'll always be Mom to them. I really enjoy having grown children. Seeing them as happy, confident, and successful adults is such a blessing.

    Hope you have a lovely Mother's Day, Tammy!

    Critter Alley

  2. As usual, you say things in such a profound way, Tammy. How nice that your son's graduation and Mother's Day butted up against each other--you got to see both your kiddos over the weekend.

    Happy Mother's Day. Do something for yourself today.

  3. My soul has known their souls....HFFF you made me cry! Congrats to your grad and happy Mother's day to you.

  4. Being a mother when the children are adults is so much more fun. Congrats girlfriend and Happy (belated) Mother's Day!

  5. Such a touching story you’ve got there. Thanks a bunch for sharing your heartwarming experience. Being a mom they say is an opportunity to affect a life to what you wanted it to be. Mother’s instinct is very much different from father’s coz’ mother’s aims safety, caress, contentment and security of their children. In short, we’re like angels.

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  6. You summed it up beautifully. All of it. My three are grown now and I love the way our relationships have evolved. I'll always be their Mama, but it sure is nice to be their friend.

    Thanks for this post, Tammy.

  7. Lovely post. "Redrawing the line and then learning to dance around it" is great!

  8. Hi Tammy, it sounds like you had a good Mother's Day with your kids. I sometimes think that when the Mom and kids went through adversity together that it makes for a special bond as they grow up.

    Glad that you are taking care of yourself and exploring new things.

    Kathy M.


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