When your children grow up and become adults the dynamic of the relationship changes. They leave home and start on their own paths through life. I am no longer the first person there when my grown-up children have a problem. I may be at the end of the phone but I'm not physically there for them at that moment when they need me the most.
Today, my 20 year old Megan had a crash on a dual carriageway in Central Manchester during rush hour on her way to work. My poor shaken daughter was thankfully not hurt in the collision that left her car immobile in the middle of the road and smashed the front of the Volkswagen that she collided with. I thank our lucky stars that she is safe. We can get the car fixed. We can pay for the damage on the other car. As long as Megan is OK that is all that matters.
Ian went to her rescue and managed to get her car back to her house after doing a few repairs roadside, although there is a lot more work needed to get her car roadworthy again. Meanwhile I sat at home wishing I was there to give her a cuddle and celebrate the fact that despite everything she was still in one piece. I want to hug away the thoughts of what might have been and help her and me get through the ordeal together. But with Freddy at nursery and the girls at school, I can't just drop everything to fly to the sides of my older children. We have to schedule a visit which means that I am not always there when I am needed. I can listen to my child crying down the telephone and not be able to wrap my arms around them. It is not easy.
My son is just nine short weeks away from becoming a dad. It pains me to think that I won't be at his side when his baby comes into the world. I'll be at home waiting for the phone call which will be followed by a two hour drive to get to my son and my new grandchild. I know what an emotional, stressful and tiring time is can be following the birth of a baby, but it won't be me there if Joe needs a shoulder to cry on or some advice at 3am.
I think it is the 'letting go' part of parenting that is proving the hardest to deal with. Mostly I am fine and I am so proud of Megan and Joe and their achievements, their ambitions and their ability to make lives of their own. I enjoy them being independent and love being able to visit my grown-up children and feel a part of their new lives. No longer in control, no longer making decisions on their behalf, but there because we love each other and want to spend time together. It is when I know they need their mum that it hurts me to not be there.
Today on Facebook, a very wise and lovely friend said something in response to a conversation I was having regarding having grown-up children who need us when we can't be with them. She has been through the same thing and understood exactly how I was feeling. She said:
It is horrible, but at least they know we'd like nothing more than to give them that mummy hug xx
As long as my kids agree with that statement, I know I've done my job.