Oye. So, my kids won’t read this. They don’t have any interest in my blog, which is okay, truly.
I have been slowly declaring my independence from the ties of parenthood, grandparenthood. Now, that does not FOR ONE MINUTE , mean that I don’t adore my kids and grandkids. i would drop everything, everything if one of them needed me –and I have many many times. Happily. I don’t regret or resent any moment with my family over the last 35 years. Not one moment.
But, over the past 2, maybe 3 years, I have realized that I am running out of time. No drama here, just reality. I’m almost 58. Realistically I have maybe 10 -15 years left to feel pretty good, be pretty active. Then, with my family history, maybe another 5 years to dwindle…and that is best case scenario. Not guaranteed, by any means. I have spent the last 35 years wrapped up in supporting other people. My people, my kids. But, its time, it really is, for me to have some ME time. for sure.
We took a honeymoon and then one camping trip in my dads camper before we started having children. popped out 3 in less than five years. When our third child was 5 we took our first weekend away, with out kids. Did it once a year for the next 2 years.( This was the time in my life when I used to stand in the back yard and watch planes fly over and wonder where they were going, if I would ever fly again. Yes, I know, poor pitiful me. )
After our 20th. anniversary I planned a trip to Cleveland to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I know, Cleveland. That was the extent of our travels, alone, during our marriage. Period. We took the kids to the beach, almost every year after the oldest turned 7 — in North Carolina. Wonderful family vacations. We bought a boat, took the kids out every week. We spent many days with family and with each other, we swam at the neighborhood pool. We gave them the best life we could. We spent every minute with them, as a family. And it was a good life.
Flash forward, 35 years after we married on that Cold January day. Kids are grown and married. 6 grandchildren in 6 years and now number 7 due any minute. We retired early, then went immediately back to work, me in a new career, husband in an extension of his previous job. Our kids all live close. It is wonderful. But, it began to be expected that we would cover the holes in their days. We “felt bad” when the kids were in daycare, so we picked them up almost every day. we “felt bad” when oldest daughter or our son didn’t get to “go out”, “have fun” — so we babysat, rented beach houses and invited them all to join us. We worried that they were short on money, or time, or joy or rest time. So we worked to “fix it”. And our kids have become quite comfortable and expecting of our involvement.
And then, it occurred to me that while, for 30 years or so, I was spending every day and night raising kids and then grandkids, and had zero hobbies, very few friends and no down time, my husband had been hunting, fishing, building race cars, playing darts and helping friends. Not as much as he wanted, but still , finding time to be him. There was no time to be me. I lost me. I went through years of resentment, laying right under the surface, of the life he had molded me into. It almost drove us to divorce. I left for a little bit. He went buck crazy. I figured, hell, if he wants it back this bad, maybe it IS worth fighting for.
Over the last couple years, I have pushed back. We are working to live for us now. It is our time. We get to vacation alone, say no to babysitting, buy things we want and do things we enjoy. When my youngest says “lucky you” when I say we are at the beach, or at a restaurant, I remind her that when I was her age, or when my kids were her kids age, I was exactly where she is. We are working hard to remove ourselves from our kids marriages – their arguments, decisions are not our business. We will listen if they talk, but we will not try to solve their problems. It is not our job to figure out who gets who off the bus, or to the doctor, or new shoes. I shouldn’t turn around on the way to a business meeting to pick up a child that has a parent who should do it, as hard as it is for me to keep driving straight. We will help, when we can, when asked, but we are trying to help them not assume we are taking care of these things. Its life altering, not only for us, but, Im sure, for them.
We work full time. We have a big house. We have sore knees and I have stents in my heart. We have hobbies and toys and things we want to do. Sometimes we want to do them with company, with children around. Sometimes we try to connect with old friends that we have ignored for years. Sometimes we will alter our schedule to spend time with the people we love. We will honor traditions and be present. I never missed a hockey game, wrestling match or cheerleading performance. Never missed a dance recital or a band concert. Never. But I may miss a couple of these things when my grandchildren do them. I may choose to sit on the back porch and read the paper or drive to the beach. I’m going to build that beach house and spend months on end there. And that is ok.
I declare my Independence.