Being a mother to adults is a role that I am not yet fully accustomed to. It feels a little like a slightly ill fitting shirt, something that I can make work but does not immediately feel like me. It is not uncomfortable, and there is something familiar but there is also something different; an uncertainty, a feeling of venturing into the unknown, a worry that I might not get this right. I don’t remember feeling the same things as a mother to children, although perhaps at the beginning it was there. And although being a mother to adolescents was tricky and challenging at times, it also felt like a more natural progression than the place that I am currently at.
Mothering young children is different. The responsibility feels huge. You have another person dependent entirely on you, but that is the crux I feel. They are dependent. As children there is the unconditional love and acceptance that comes with the relationship. They don’t see you faults and flaws, they don’t judge, they just react. They grow eventually into adolescents of course and then seem to test the water and the boundaries, always checking, always pushing, asserting themselves as they go. And while these other stages can be tricky to navigate at times, there is an acceptance that you are in this together, for better or for worse.
By the time your children reach adulthood, they have their own ideas and opinions. Their love is no longer unconditional but dependent on the type of relationship that you have with them. They are no longer reliant of being with you and following your rules, but choose to be with you as and when the mood takes them. I have always loved being a mum and have seen putting my children first as a priority and one that I was happy to meet. Reaching the stage where they are independent (to a certain extent) is one of pride but also one of change. The role is different and currently it all feels a little unclear.
I feel as though I am in a period where the goal posts are continually moving as they find their way and assert more and more of their own independence. It is important to me that I can be there for them as I always have, but I also want them to be there for me. I don’t mean that in a look after me kind of a way, but more in terms of hoping that they enjoy my company and want to spend time with me. They see my flaws of course, and I am sure that I irritate them, but I want to be able to have a good relationship and one which means that we remain as close as we were when they were younger, albeit that it is now different.
I know that I have to work at this. I have made it a priority to do this and to forge a relationship with them as adults and as people in their own right. I am so very proud of everything that they achieve and of the people who they have become, but I will not always agree with the decisions and choices that they make. That is how it should be and remaining supportive, whilst also looking out for them, can be a finely tuned balancing act. I am making progress with reading the signs and I am sure I am learning as I go. I know I don’t always get it right, but I am willing to admit when I have overstepped or indeed misjudged.
The sands are constantly shifting and what works for one, invariably does not work for the other. I am trying to spend more time with each individually as a way of strengthening the connection and of getting to know the people they are becoming. I think that being part of a large family where two have been blended into one has had lots of advantages, but it has also meant that some of the individual moments have been lost to bigger events. I feel it is important to be able to notice these, and to be able to see them each for the people they are, rather than as part of a group.
I know that things haven’t always been easy for them and while I wish that I could have made life circumstances easier, it was what it was, and I have a lot of admiration for the way that they have adapted and for the resilience that they have shown. I think we always hope that the difficult things of life can bring positives with them, and I think that I see a strength in each which I think will stand them in good stead going forwards. Although I am not a person who feels particularly proud of the things that I do, I do feel proud of my children all the time and it always catches me off guard, with the little things that they do make my heart swell.