When my children reached their teens, I missed their baby selves ever so much. I ogled other people's babies to such an extent that The Daughter would whisper in my ear, "Stop it Mom! You are being creepy!" I spent a full decade bemoaning the "lost" years.
Lately, I realise that I have reached the 2nd sweet spot in my life with kids. I can now regress into the Baby of the Family role. The baby is now me.
My children worry about my health. They help me with chores. They handle for me tasks that I find stressful. When the kitchen drainage pipe got stuck, I became unreasonably worked up and unnecessarily miserable. My children took over. They liaised with the plumber, picked his brains and sorted out everything right down to a detailed written report on drain maintenance, I kid you not. It was a 2 page typewritten report, with photo illustrations.
When travelling in Croatia, The Daughter took over all the packing. It was she who knew where every item was and she who made sure all the glass bottles and fragile items were packed safely for travel in the suitcases. She searched online for eateries providing gluten free options and she took it upon herself to make clear to servers how important gluten free was to me.
One night, I worried about not having enough mineral water to see us through the night. Once I was tucked into bed, The Daughter placed a glass of water at my bedside saying, "This water is for you tonight, Mom."
When Grandpa collapsed at home and I was at my wits' end on how to get him from his bed to the car, The Son said, "Don't worry, Mom. I will handle it." Not only that, the children offered wise opinions when we discussed the long term management of Grandpa's healthcare. For 20 years now, The Husband and I have shouldered the bulk of the family burdens on top of having to carve out our careers. It feels so good to share some of these burdens with our grown children.
There are some minor adjustments to my relationship with my children, however. They tend to like telling me what to do now. Sometimes, it almost seems like they are my parents. At Plitvice Lakes, Croatia, we encountered a very friendly cat. It rubbed itself against my legs and made eyes at me. I bent down and scratched it behind the ears. The Daughter said, "Mom, you should not touch stray cats. They could have mange and then you will catch scabies from them."
Such a Mommy-like thing to say, don't you think?
On another occasion, I was tickled by a somewhat risqué video which I tried to show The Son. He made a disgusted face and gravely stated his disapproval of such smut.
Such a Daddy-like thing to say, don't you think?
I don't mind you know. I quite like my kids telling me what to do. The person who tells others what to do, shoulders the responsibilities that come with decision-making. I am just glad to have lighter responsibilities and I feel happy that my kids view me as their responsibility now. Make sure Mom eats safely. Make sure Mom doesn't get so stressed she cannot sleep. Make sure Mom doesn't fall into a ditch when we are hiking.
I used to have one best friend... The Husband. Now, it seems that I have 3. Us 4 best friends like hanging out. We linger at the dining table to chat and yesterday, I excused myself to go upstairs to rest after dinner... and before long, the children had crowded onto my bed to further carry on the conversation.
I am content. I may not do yearly trips to Paris, Tokyo and New York for shopping but I think peace in the family is an underrated luxury item on par with or surpassing the latest Chanel. Every word said in love and every service rendered to each other en famille is the harvest reaped from years of tending to the family and bearing the burdens for all of them. The children enjoy hanging out with us and that is such a rare privilege.
All those years when I thought I might break under the weight of The Husband's work stress and the children's school stress have paid off. Way back then, each would relieve their stress burdens with me. They would go back to their rooms lighter. I went back to mine somewhat more burdened. Those years are over.
Now, I am their burden. I hope I am light.