As my children grow up, I find myself more and more relegated to the sidelines: they are out there leading their lives, and increasingly I am simply watching from the sidelines. It's hard. I see them going through the turmoils of life, but can do little to help. When they are sad or troubled three out of the four now have partners to turn to - a mother's hug just doesn't do it anymore! I'm glad of that: it is right that they move on - and I still remember the huge burden of responsibility of having babies and young children depending on me to 'fix it'! But after nearly 27 years of motherhood, it is hard to adjust to being needed so much less - it leaves a gap in one's life!
Of course they do still want me in their lives. Mac and I have spent a lot of time and energy supporting ds26 through his troubled marriage and subsequent bitter separation / access dispute. We are there when our sons feel the need to touch home base, or need to talk, need help moving house, whatever. But we no longer share their day to day life, except for that of ds17.
When the kids were younger, it sometimes seemed so hard: the illnesses, the broken sleep, the worries (especially as a homeschooling mother) about whether they were learning what they would need later, whether I was making the right decisions and so on and on and on. But there was so much fun too, and even in the sad times, there was a little body to hold and cuddle and comfort. I miss that.
So at this point in my life, when my 'baby' is planning on working full time for the first part of next year, before starting university in the second semester, I am left with a deep anxiety, not really certain of my own identity or place in the world. I thought these sort of feelings were the province of teenagers, but at 56 and going through the tail end of menopause, I find myself in a similar state of confusion. However, this time around it is less exciting, less dramatic - more a sense of quiet panic.