Still Mothering

My baby came home. O.k., as a third year medical student, he
isn’t technically a baby. He isn’t even technically my baby as three younger sisters arrived after him. And he only
came home for four days. But any mother reading this knows what I’m feeling.

There seems to be so little I can do for my children now
that they are grown. It filled my heart to be able to cook his favorite meal,
prepare his bed with clean sheets and pick him up at the airport. Forgotten is
how tiring it was to prepare nutritious meals every night, to do constant
laundry (though from about the age of nine my children were responsible for
their own clothing) and to be the on-call chauffeur. Also forgotten (almost) is
the exhaustion of sleepless nights when he was an infant, the disgust at his
joyful eating of slugs in the back yard as a toddler and even the fright and
annoyance when as a teenager he almost drove my car off a cliff.

At least when he was younger I could take care of him. I could
nurture the illusion that I could keep him safe. For a few precious years my
kiss or hug cured most ills, my attention fed most needs. Even later, when my touch
wasn’t quite as magical, I could welcome his friends to our house and expose
him to books, various skills and nature. Not so today. As much as I would like
to smooth his path, I cannot produce his soul mate. I would do more harm than
good by contacting the powers-that-be and explaining to them why he will make a
fabulous doctor and they should give him his first choice of residencies. I can’t
spare him the pain of maturing or save him from his, altogether human,

I do what I can. First and foremost is prayer. A distant
second comes grabbing whatever opportunities I have to feed and nurture him.
For which I am most grateful for the past few days.

9 thoughts on “Still Mothering”

  1. you are a very good son. I love your parents writing and it is nice to know they have kind and considerate offspring. Best of success with your schooling.

  2. I’m so happy for your joy. I know you and Rabbi Lapin have done a superb job of rearing your children. That sacrifice and love will bring rich harvests throughout your lives. I know God is very pleased with you both, for how wonderful your children have turned out. They will always need you and know how much you love them and how much you’ve poured into their lives. Congrats and enjoy yourselves greatly! I’m truly happy for you although I’ve never raised children. I do have spiritual children and the concept is the same. We have to let them fly on their own. So I know
    the feeling and I hope your time with your son is stretched and deep. I know it’s absolutely priceless. ENJOY!

  3. We can come up with lots of rationalizations, lots of logic, but much as we’re proud of our grown kids, as you are justifiably proud of your son, it’s painful to know they don’t need you, and often, don’t even want to be with you. Can’t deny it; you just have to distract with the rest of life.

  4. One doesn’t have to be a mom to know how true it is that mom’s will always think of their kids as…well, kids – regardless of their age. My husband detests being referred to like that even though he must know it is a “mom thing” that is universal and will never change.
    Eating slugs as a toddler ?…..That’s hilarious !
    Did he introduce this backyard delicacy to his sisters in their toddler years ?
    Best of luck to him in medical school !…And best of luck to him finding his soul mate !

  5. As a homeschool mom of 4 who just sent her first born to college in August I so understand this post. The pain of separation has been so great but I know I have done my job and he must fly. So thankful when they visit the nest:)

  6. Susan, this is so poignant. The hardest thing as a parent is letting go, and knowing that your child (even adult child) will inevitably have rough patches and pain, just as we all do. I am sure that your adult children still rely on your and your husband’s boundless love and immense wisdom all the time. I am a little amazed yet also heartened that our four children, none of whom live at home now (though two threaten to return) call us very frequently and want to talk for a long time. See? They still need us, even when they are BIG.

  7. It’s not just mothering. It’s fathering, too, although I suppose no father can feel the poignant pangs like those only mothers can feel. But isn’t that the way of it? They get big and strong and we get old. If they have offspring we get to revisit our children vicariously, through our grandchildren. We derive some of the joy through grandchildren that we missed with children, because in our desperate race to reach the top of the hill, professional or economic, our time to spend with family was much less plentiful than it is now. It brings tears to our eyes to envision what we may have missed.
    As for our children, we can only release them and hope that we have seeded them with the right values to guide them in this life. And of course, we can pray for them. But it is ironic to see them choose paths similar to our own, and to make mistakes similar to our own, and to observe their new beginnings as they pick themselves up and start over. Heredity vs. environment: how much is nature, how much is nurture, we will never know, but the acorn falls not far from the tree.

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