When Mom Gets Put Out to Pasture

What happens when an over-involved, over-reaching mom – the mommiest of moms according to my son when he was young – gets put out to pasture? There is now a term, a Momager, which describes moms and managers, but I think it is also pretty descriptive for the kind of mom I was- hands-on and in the thick of everything going on with the kids.

Just an FYI to you new empty nesters, the empty nest phase isn’t the biggest period of adjustment. The kids still came home on breaks from college, hang around the house with friends, need laundry done, and need assistance here and there on details of life, so the mommying was still, if not in full throttle, at least in use.

The next phase is even more empty: the phase of being the mom of adults BEFORE the grand-kids come along.
As the mom of competent, high functioning and successful adults, I don’t even need to co-sign leases any more. (Although I do insert myself on occasion whether invited or not.)
What on earth is a mom (who since the birth of her children defined herself first and foremost as a mom) to do at that point in life when she is still yearning to feel needed? Does the feeling of wanting to DO for the kids ever go away for us over-involved moms? It’s not as if I am not busy enough because I have more than enough stuff to fill my time and beyond.
As I have observed in some friends, it sometimes gives way to being an over-involved grandparents, providing that the kids live in close enough vicinity.  But for me and many others, well after the empty nest and before the weddings and grandchildren, the long stretch between leaves us feeling like we want to be needed a little more.
Keep in mind that I am proud my kids are super independent and successful. This is what I nurtured, and this is what I am blessed with. Just because I was a helicopter mom doesn’t mean that I didn’t give them the charge to fly the nest and succeed on their own.  And I do feel bad for those parents whose grown children are dependent and are therefore needed way too much. I am not asking for that by any stretch of the imagination.
Being close with both of my children, I  lend support through work concerns, travel logistics, etc etc, but hands on – there is virtually nothing for me to do. No birthday parties to plan, no lunches to pack, (which includes a juicy-juice- inside joke with my kids) no games or performances to carpool and attend. No homework projects to shop for and help with, no application paperwork to review and assist with, no meals to cook, no friends over to help them entertain and keep fed.
At any rate, I have been put out to pasture for the time being, and so it is absolutely wonderful when occasionally my daughter Elissa or my son Brett throws me a bone. For my daughter it is usually in the mode of finding something for her that is buried in our family home or her old bedroom- something that has to be mailed because it is urgently needed, like a Halloween costume.
Like a knee-jerk reaction from my mommiest of days before, I spring into action. This Over-Reaching mom Over-Reacts in a flash.  Mom to the rescue! Mom is on the job!
For example, the other night my daughter emailed me that she needed a photo of herself dressed as Belle – as in the character from Beauty and the Beast, circa early 90’s. I did not even inquire as to what it was needed for before I began working on it.
A quick aside about my daughter’s fascination with everything Disney and especially Belle.
The movie came out when she was about 3 years old, and we bought the story book after we saw it in the theaters. When hearing the story, my daughter was fascinated with the theme which I emphasized to her that “beauty on the inside is more important than beauty on the outside.” (meaning the type of personality of being loving, showing kindness, compassion, generosity,helpfulness) I always pointed out that when the Beast was ugly, it was because he was ugly on the inside, and then became magically handsome when he changed his ways. Belle, of course, was beautiful on the outside and within.
Belle therefore became my daughter’s hero for a time and she wanted to be like Belle. She would tell anyone who called her pretty or complimented her looks, that she was “pretty on the inside too.” It really confused people at the time as it was out of context for them but not for her.
Belle Lis
At any rate, of course my daughter would choose to be Belle for her next Halloween costume. We got the costume, and she made a gorgeous little Belle. (Sigh, a reminder that I have no costumes to make or buy!) She wore this costume for years.
Belle
Here’s the funny part of the story. I hadn’t thought of Elissa’s Belle phase in years and years. Then my daughter emailed me that she needed the photos of her dressed up as Belle.
YAY! I was needed! I went on a scrambling mission that meant I would have go through tons of photo albums to find the photo and scan it to her. That could take hours and hours.
Fortunately my photos are fairly organized in albums by date, and I just estimated the dates I thought the photo would have been taken, and VOILA – found it! It took me less than an hour, and I felt so good for coming through for her.
It’s adorable, isn’t it? Oh, I miss those days of having young children!
At any rate, I found out that she didn’t really have a good reason to need the photo – just a discussion with co-workers. So the hour of searching was probably an over-reaction and harkened back the days when my kids needed something for school or an assignment. You can take the kids out of the home, but you just can’t take the mommy (the over-reaching type) away from some people.  NOTE: I will probably regret writing this when it comes time to plan a wedding

4 comments

  • While reading your blog I felt you were writing about me! Now I have one married, and one back home, transitioning back to life in Houston, I find myself needed. I wake up early and make her lunch for work and make sure she has breakfast before walking out the door! I plan my dinners around if she is home with us, and find myself doing laundry service as well.

    I am looking forward to the grandparent stage, where I know I will be needed again.

    Sharon

  • Sweet story, Arlene. The only thing my son asks for is old video games. But I can easily find him as Batman and The Flash in an hour if I had to!

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