why the in-between years of motherhood matter

I’m kind of in this weird spot of motherhood. Let’s just call it the not so glamorous, but still stressful, but now I’m trying to find myself place. In other words, I don’t have cute toddlers or fun preschoolers. My youngest is nine, my oldest twenty-three and I have a collection of kids in the middle.

It’s the mid-life crisis place that I saw on television growing up. Typically the dad would get a fancy red car and the mom would be in some room crying or she’d cut her hair crazy while the kids were fighting downstairs. My space is exempt the fancy car and my hair, much to my dismay has lost it’s fullness and I find myself scouring Target for conditioners that add extra body. And speaking of body, somehow in this middle crazy space my own body has decided to have a resurgence of those teenage hormones so while I’m purchasing the thickening shampoo I’m also over in the acne aisle wondering if Neutrogena still works. Oh yeah, and at Crossfit, I get called “ma’am” by the new people. That never happened when I was in my twenties….just saying.

There aren’t that many books and articles about existing in this space. This purgatory, stuck in the middle but still feeling so young, while still not getting much sleep of parenting. In fact, that’s me, in the agony of hours known as homework – where you can’t do anything but wait for the next question which happens every 32 seconds and lasts for thirty minutes.

Yeah, I’ve written about being brave and changing your life. That all matters too. But this? This is a constant crazy existence. Get this – the other day I pulled my teenage son’s bed out and found a whole graveyard of Capri-sun containers. His wastebasket is in his room, two feet away, and there I was wanting to pull out my remaining hair out over the littering. That’s what I texted him at school, in all caps for emphasis – IN OUR HOUSE WE DO NOT LITTER.

Parenting in these ages can’t so quickly be redeemed by a cute photo on instagram. I mean, come on, do you really want to see the before and after of a teenage boys room? Or me sitting in the van AGAIN waiting. Or my shopping bill at Kroger? Sometimes I go through the line and she’s like, “you’re here again?” and I just say one thing, “teenagers.” She gives me that empathetic nod and then the mom behind me with the toddler trying to convince her to buy the M&M’S looks at me and I know she’s either hoping for these years or hugging that little one who still likes to hug her.

So yeah, this space, these non glamorous years of motherhood. I know there is a bunch of you in here too with me. I know, I see you at Kroger and Target and in the school line. I see you cheering them on or waiting to talk to teachers. I see you. And I know it can be lonely and frustrating and tiring. And I want to tell you, just like I told you when we had little kids, that you matter. You are enough.

You are enough if you get frustrated or are chill.

You are enough if you feel a bit lost in this space.

Because at the end of the day, and it’s going to be the same, our kids, your kids – they just need you. Now granted, they aren’t as cute or as endearing about the ways they tell it to you. And sometimes you might be met with silence. Which, take a moment and think about, is what we all craved years ago and now, now somedays I would give anything for words beyond “I’m fine” and “it’s okay” and “uh-huh.” But that’s what these  years are about and that’s why you matter.

You are their constant. You are the one who loves them behind slammed doors. You are the one helping with 3D cell projects. You are the one pressing the hypothetical brake in the passenger side of the car as your teenager drives. You are also the one saying prayers over and over that you make it to Target while they drive. You are the one who will show up for them if they are sick EVEN if they said nothing to you in the morning. You are the one adding money to the lunch account. You are the one meeting the boyfriend. You are the one with the tracking app on your phone. You matter. You are their mom.

They still need you. Trust me, they do.

So today hold your head high. You may be in these years of motherhood with those older kids, but sweet sweet mom – holy moly – these YEARS COUNT. Trust me, I know. My daughter is graduating high school next week. That’s a new space in motherhood, but on that day, I am going to breathe a sigh of relief. I made it.

Yes, that.

You are making a difference. One Capri Sun container, one car pool line, one homework help, one “I’m here for you”, one day at a time. And for that, I say this – thank you.

From me, another mom in the crazy unpredictable just as challenging middle and letting go years, to all of you.

~Rachel

ps…. and they still make Neutrogena. And coverup. And maybe someday I’ll just buy myself that red car.

5 Responses to “why the in-between years of motherhood matter”

  1. May 16, 2019

    Corinna Reply

    Yes, Yes, Yes to this! I’m also in these years with my kids aged between 8 and 15. No cute toddlers anymore and much more emotionally taxing and dare I say it, time consuming (including being needed in the middle of the night), mothering required now than those sweet, but also exhausting, baby years. What I appreicated so much about seeing these words pop up on my screen this morning, was how little is written about this stage and what is spoken is so often negative. You have given me a spark in my soul this morning as I sit here, yet again, helping with the homeschooling and trying desperately to keep up with the food prep in between the trips dropping them here and there at activities and social events. It’s a fantastic stage of mothering and such fun seeing them grow into their own unique people, but we do need to remember that although our intagram feeds aren’t cutesy anymore, we still matter, mothering still matters and our kids are really awesome human beings!

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  4. June 11, 2019

    Marlene Reply

    Thank you for sharing, these teenage years can be frustrating but treasure our time together. I have two teens and one pre-teen .Yes it does make you feel alone, but thank God I have my husband and we are able to go through this together.Yes they make bad choices but that’s why we are here to help them. It’s definitely been ups and downs w my son soon to be 17yr old. The worries, cries, frustrations and forgiveness. Like you I just want him to graduate HS and say yes we survived. It’s true they need us. Sometimes I stare at him and see how handsome and big he is.

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