For a good part of my adult life, I wanted to be a mother, but as I got older, I worried that it might not happen for me. I hadn’t met the right man to marry, so how could I become a mom? But then, one day, I realized that even though I hadn’t found my life partner, I could be a single mother by choice. There was even an organization that provided support and information to women like me: Single Mothers by Choice (SMC), for women who were mature, ready for motherhood, but single. It WAS possible. Months later, I had made my dream a reality. I was a mother.
Motherhood was the joyous center of my life for many years. I had enjoyed my career and had a pretty satisfying life, both before becoming a mom and throughout my mothering years. But there was something about being a mother that was different. Corny as it sounds, the intense bond of motherhood satisfied a need, deep within me, that nothing else had met.
As my son grew up and started to become more independent, of course I encouraged that. I wanted to be a good parent, and to me that meant helping him to become a capable, separate person, able to be independent yet still connected. That was a primary goal of my parenting. But, while I enjoyed seeing his growing independence, I felt worried and a little sad too. Our relationship was clearly changing. Would we still stay connected?
Although I was a bit reluctant to give up the wonderfulness of the early mother/child intensity, of being the most important person in my son’s world, fortunately, he had no such problems. “Mom,” he said to me when he was around 9, “you and I are the two most different people in the universe.” Wow, I thought. He’s definitely trying to tell me that he feels able to be independent. And I need to respect and appreciate that.
The teen years were pretty difficult, as they often can be. The push-pull of his struggle for independence taxed my patience at times. At one point a few weeks before he left for college, he said to me, “You have no idea how much I’m looking forward to being away from home.” But actually, I did. By that point I had started to feel exactly the same way. The teen years had done their job, and we were separating. So what would be next?
I assumed that once my son’s growing-up years were over, I would no longer feel like a mother. My relationship with my own mother was not great when I was an adult, and I was very worried that my son and I would repeat that. But I was wrong.
It turned out that we both wanted to stay connected, and so after a while, we figured out how to relate to one another as two adults. We get along well now, and have good times together. What is different is that now our relationship is a mutual one. We care about and help each other.
Even when he was very young, my son (with a little help from friends and family) always gave me something for Mother’s Day. He probably has no idea that those early hand-made gifts, the mugs that said, “I Love Mom” and the cards he made in school were treasures to me, worth their weight in gold. Now he takes me out for lunch. And I now spend Mother’s Day with someone who is not only my son, but who is a funny, interesting, and thoughtful person.
Although my role has changed, I’m still his mother and he is still my son, and we still have a very special connection. And I know now that we always will.