As children grow, so does their independence. This is a good thing and for the most part we all are thrilled to get some measure of our lives back. However, there are moments when we feel a little strange when we have been so consumed with their care and then all of sudden they don't need us to help them do simple tasks. The older they get, the more they can do, the more you may feel not needed. Here is how to handle those moments when they come:
How to Prepare When You Really Can't - It's hard to prepare for something you haven't ever encountered. The main thing to remember is everyone goes through some form of this or another. Some parents may seem to handle it all so much better, but that doesn't mean they don't feel it. Don't judge your feelings on how you see someone else respond. For every thing that changes, it becomes normal after a bit until the next thing. I remember when my son was about 11 or so. He was meeting friends at the movie theater to watch a movie for the first time without parents attending too. When we dropped him off, I expected a hug and a kiss like I had gotten all the time up to that point--but he didn't want to do that. It was such a strange feeling. I nearly cried. It made perfectly logical sense why he didn't, but my emotions hit me harder than my rational thought, which was unexpected because he wasn't even my firstborn! I had even already been through times that she didn't need me either. Each of your children are different and whatever things they let go of needing your help with for them feels differently for you. My kids' ages were so spread out it seemed that they all went through milestone changes at the same time for different things. Sometimes that was overwhelming, but you do get through it. I have to say, watching my son go to a movie for the first time was sure different than when we left him at college that first time. Talk about crying! Now I am his assistant, so he still needs me!
Notice the Unseen - There are times you just have to look between lines and see where they need you. They need you to trust them. They need your approval although they act like they don't care. They need you to listen to them even when they aren't too communicative. They need you to love them unconditionally. They need you teach them discipline. Even though you may only see them as they run by you in or out the door, they still need so many things from you. Keep that in mind as they drive away to go to their first job!
Empty Nest and Beyond - Another adjustment is certainly whenever they move out for the first time (yes, first time because sometimes they come back!). When each child moves out, the house feels and sounds different. It's so quiet when you least expect it. There are less messes sometimes (which is a good thing, but still odd how you miss it) and your grocery list gets smaller. It's also an adjustment if you have one move home for a period of time as an adult. I mean, you expect it to be different when they move in but when they move out you also feel a bit of sadness with that relief. For a moment in time they needed you again to provide them with shelter and food. It's a feeling you know well and it can be easy to fall into feeling like they are a child again in some ways. They don't like this though, so try to keep your boundaries!
Your children don't stop needing you. The things they need FROM you just change. I love my grandchildren and watching them grow, but I wouldn't want to go back to those days with my kids. I have enjoyed different things from different stages of their lives, but none of it compares to having a relationship with them as adults. I know they still need me and I still need them as well. It can be bittersweet however when everyone leaves after a big family get together. Yes, it can be exhausting, but in the best way possible. All those moments when they were little that seemed to drag on are now just blips in time and every moment I can spend now is so cherished. So don't worry about when your kids might not need you in the same way, they never truly stop needing you. I sometimes still need my Mom and she has been gone 20 plus years now. Just enjoy all the moments you can!