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Obsolete Mothering.. or not.

Hurry up. Wait. Hurry up. Wait.

My days are crazy. They vary from running at top speed: driving back and forth, helping at school, helping with homework, Cooking. Cleaning. Laundering. Rushing. In short, doing all the things a mom does… or waiting. Waiting, and waiting some more.  I find waiting equally crazy to rushing.

Waiting for my husband to come home.  Waiting for meals to cook and for the dishwasher to run. Waiting for the bus. Waiting for one kid or another to come home or for the time to go and pick them up.  Waiting. Sometimes waiting for something to do.

While I wait, I feel a niggling fear: “Am I becoming obsolete?”

Obsolete:

–adjective

1. no longer in general use; fallen into disuse: an obsolete expression.

2. of a discarded or outmoded type; out of date: an obsolete battleship.

I’m far from being done as a mother. (While my oldest is 20, my youngest son is only 7. ) I am still needed daily. But truthfully?  I am no longer needed (in a practical sense) as a mother, every single moment.

It’s in those un-needed moments, that I wonder about my obsolescence.

What happens to obsolete things?

Well, battleships are often sunk to become coral reefs… I kind of like that idea… Computer hardware can be re-cycled, even turned into art.  I doubt my “hardware” would be useful for art. Alternatively, it can be thrown into a landfill, to be dug up after the apocalypse and turned into some kind of weapon to kill zombies… Somehow I don’t see myself used as post-apocalyptic weaponry…I am just far too fragile… (that was random.) Obsolete household goods sometimes become valuable as antiques- but gathering dust isn’t my style. Besides, I cannot sit still. AT ALL.

My Question is: What happens to a Mom, as her children become more and more independent?

As they need her less and less, does she become obsolete?

Do other mothers feel like this?

My first instinct is to fill those un-needed moments. IMMEDIATELY.  To make myself feel valuable, in an attempt to save myself from perceived obsolescence. There are days while I’m waiting, that I feel like I’d do anything to feel needed (and valued) again.

I could: get a job.

I could: fill every waking moment with “meaningful” volunteering.

It’s not just me who wonders about my obsolescence and what I should do next. I’ve heard the comments: “She should get a job.” “She doesn’t have a job, does she?” “She has too much time on her hands.” “If I did _____ I’d feel too guilty.”

The comments imply that what I’m doing now,  isn’t enough. Isn’t enough for whom? I feel defensive, and angry when I hear the comments.  But I also admit, some days it isn’t enough, for me.

I also know that getting a job or volunteering non-stop- won’t make me feel any less obsolete.

I have always said: “My goal as a mother, is to work myself out of a job.” I’ve endeavored to give my kids; roots and wings. In those quiet, uncomfortable, fear niggling moments… I also realize that I am in that process. The process of watching them take flight.  This is what it feels like. Funny how something so good, can feel so…. not.

Do you remember that scene from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory?  The freaky psychedelic boat scene?  The kind of fun but also scary not quite sure where’ you’ll end up scene? I also feel like I’m riding that boat. To somewhere.

My question is:  What’s next?

I don’t know.. But I do believe God does…

Jeremiah 29:11 (New International Version)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Dear Lord.. I’m struggling with the changes that are happening.  I am happy and grieved at the same time.  Am I becoming obsolete?  Do you have still have a plan that involves me?  Even as I write these thoughts.. I know the answer: Of course you do.  I’d just like to know what it IS. Lord-  I am tempted to run ahead to the next thing.. to skip past this to get to THAT.. But I don’t want to miss what YOU have planned.  Help me to savor these last days of  “needed-ness” without smothering. Help me to use the luxury of time I have wisely, without guilt and without fear.  Help me to wait well, for you. I love you Lord- amen.


Are you a mom in transition?
What does it feel like to you?
Are you afraid you’re becoming obsolete?
Are you excited by the changes that are happening?
Do you know what’s next, for you?
I’d love to hear your experience in the comments!

1 thought on “Obsolete Mothering.. or not.

  1. I am a member of a group of parents who are estranged from their children (adults) and know not why this happened in most cases. Many of the daughters are bi-polar (label) and want nothing to do with their parents. Many of the parents are divorced and the estrangement if due to the divorce. Others have no idea why their adult children want them out of their lives after they’ve spent so many years nurturing them.

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