I have been reflecting lately on how different it is to be a mom in my 50's than it was when I first became a mom in my early 20's.
Maybe because my oldest daughter, the one who first called me mom, just turned 30. That in itself is a reason for reflecting!
We started our family when we lived out of town, so we never really had any of the family hoopla that accompanies births day. I didn't have a baby shower thrown by an excited family member, no one rubbed my tummy and wondered who or what the child would look like. We were surrounded by a wonderful southern church family, and they were more than kind and giving, but the "real" family piece was missing.
No one crowded our hospital room, trying to catch those first photos of the new one, and some even took the news of her coming into the family as "not the best timing", being that we were struggling, poor college students far away from home.
We used all cloth diapers, and were able to get formula through the local WIC program. Life was hard.
But, in spite of all the struggle of having a child and being far from family, we managed it and even added 2 more to our quiver before I had to have a hysterectomy and watch the dreams of a large family disappear from our horizons.
We moved closer to home when our first son was one year old, and got involved in family fun and responsibilities, but we found out that the years we had been gone were totally irreplaceable. Our siblings families were in town, and there was a different sort of relationship with their children and our parents than there was with our children. It just happened that way.
Our kids grew up, way too fast, and we entertained the idea of adoption. We were 40, had determined we still had a shot at growing our family and searched our souls for the possibilities. It would impact and change our lives, but we were ready.
We read, and took council from many of our friends and family. We questioned our growing children and decided to proceed. We knew there would be differences that we would have this time around, especially adding 20 years to our aging bodies....and becoming parents to toddlers again.
Some of the things we would learn along the way were givens. Having 3 or 4 toddlers at once meant pushing one cart of kids at Walmart, while pulling another behind me full of groceries. Melt downs in the candy aisle. Added expenses for everything....food, clothes, vehicles big enough for us all, and renting 2 rooms at hotels to fit us all. With 7 new lives, the first three grown and gone, we are still learning.
Like, it is really hard to homeschool ages 15 to 5. Not a failure, but it didn't work well for us the year we did our best to execute it.
NOBODY invites a family of 9 over for dinner. (well, maybe one person does!)
Ballet classes, Y memberships, basketball teams or family outtings always cost more than an average size family.
You eat alot of casseroles and pasta.
Vacations with teens vs toddlers or little people rarely goes smoothly. One group of kids always feel left out or unhappy with the choices for the other group.
I am much more tired. So is dad.
Our parents are no longer interested in being grandparents....BTDT. At least not at the level we wish they could be involved.
Babysitters are never free.
A night out as a couple takes alot of planning.
Once we get out, a high time on the town is relaxing at the bookstore with a warm cup of coffee, until they close the doors at 11. By 11:00 we are ready to go home and sleep...knowing the kids will be up at the crack of dawn.
Saturdays are for games and activities, not browsing the antique malls or sleeping in.
Grandma and grampa are tired, and as much as I wish they were able to be here, alot of times I feel torn between caring for them and caring for the little ones still around me. It's hard to be in the middle when they all need so much care.
Now lest you think I am complaining, stop here! I have no complaints.
I wouldnt' trade the last 10 years of extra parenting for anything.
We have learned more about sharing, more about forgiveness, more about sacrifice.
We have learned about FAS, RAD, ADHD, OCD,PPD, CP .......
We have learned all the things we value are family, friends, relationships.
We have learned to trust God and let the little things go.
We have learned a messy house only means a busy house and there are way too many important things to do. The mess will be there later (and we will still be too tired to care!)
We also know it's OK to have macaroni and hot dogs for supper some nights. Or pizza. Or ramen noodles.
Life is full and rich and good.
Life is too short for regrets.
Life is what you make it.
It's harder some days, to be an older parent.
It's harder, but so worth it.
When a kids crawls in between us because they need to feel secure, we welcome them with open arms. It all goes by way too quickly.
The circle of life continues. And I am still glad we are going around again.