A Mom on a Precipice


A woman standing on a precipice.I am a mom on a precipice.

I’ve never felt this way before, but then again, I have never been a mother to adult children, including an 18-year-old (who thinks she’s an adult) and grandmother to three children. Not to mention being a daughter of an elderly mother. I’m so aware of the repetitive monotony of proclaiming I’m a member of the sandwich generation. That’s all so generic and understandable. I’m stuck between two worlds, bouncing off the ceiling and the floor.

I understand this just as much as my gray roots that I’ve grown to love.

I don’t fathom the idea of climbing the hill for quite some time now (getting married, having kids, blah, blah, blah) and realizing I’m almost at the top. I’ve accomplished so much and reached my goals, but in reality, I’ve managed to get to a very steep cliff, and I’m holding on for dear life!!

But it’s all ok, right? Remember, most things work out in the long run, but in the meantime, I take an occasional peek over the cliff, and it can take my breath away. It sends me into a tailspin, filled with anxiety and worry. But something tells me it’s supposed to be this way, in my middle-aged years, also being grateful that my states of body and mind have taken me this far….so far!

Maybe now is the time to step away from the precipice, even a little at a time. For starters, I can take a closer look at my adult children. They are an extension of how I raised them. The same personality traits they had as kids are still there. After realizing this and knowing I can’t remediate their shortcomings, I concentrate on their role as good, effective parents, appreciating that just maybe all my nagging got through to them.

My job now is to enjoy the grandchildren, forming special bonds, spoiling them, and swooning over every new developmental stage! I’ve already raised my children!

The “adult” teenager is another story. This one still needs parenting. There’s so much uncertainty, insecurity, and change. A ton of listening and reassurance at a distance or in person is pretty much all that’s needed at this point. Think of this semi-adult climbing that hill you ascended so many years ago, sometimes stopping to take a break or falling back a little just when that grip had tightened. It is part of growing up, and the learning experience never expires. 

The elderly parent thrives and ages best with adequate attention and routine. But you can’t be everywhere at once. However, I figured out I’ve been attempting to do just that for years. Now I’ve learned to press pause by making an extra phone call to check in rather than a visit, and if I do visit, I bring groceries, medications, and loads of patience, and I pray the strength comes if and when things decline.

And then the obvious and mundane tasks are purposely at the bottom of my list, housecleaning, organization, and financing. Given what I’ve just outlined as being on top of my list, these tasks all fall short of hogging up even a tiny bit of my attention.

Yes, we have clean clothes, decent meals, and important bills get paid, all done in unfocused spurts throughout the week. But the operative word is the important stuff does get DONE. Right now, that’s enough. 

A word of caution to all great moms out there, regardless of your position in the motherhood timeline, you will one day reach the precipice many other moms and I already have. When you get there, stop and think about how many people rely on you. It’s daunting and scary, but it’s manageable and commendable. My advice is that you stand proudly at the top, don’t peek over the cliff too often, and take care of yourself. You will carry on.

The climb up is nothing short of amazing!!

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Fran was born, raised, married, and still lives in Mount Kisco, NY. She has four kids, including a teenage daughter and two precious grandsons, whom she babysits a couple of days a week. She also works part-time as an accounting clerk, helps run her husband’s excavation business, and lastly aspires to finish writing her book one day. Despite her crazy, busy schedule, she cooks almost every night for her big family and tries her best to keep up with the dishes! She truly believes spontaneity is the spice of life, and sometimes the very unexpected happens, but it’s usually all for the best. Enjoy her many tales of raising kids over 20 years; what an amazing journey!