I Became A Mom And Forgot To Go To France. And Wyoming. And Pretty Much Everywhere.

by Melissa T. Shultz
Originally Published: 

They’re coming home for the holidays in search of a warm bed, homemade meals, and play time with their faithful dog, Benjamin. So I’ve been thinking…maybe I could leave town for awhile.

I love my two kids with all my heart. It’s just that while they were away and going through roller-coaster changes, I’ve been going through some changes of my own. And they have no idea. Why should they? They’re focused on becoming more independent, learning, making new friends. That’s why they’re in school. To them, I’m Mom, and I’m always here, in this house, being a mom.

But what if, while my sons have been away, I rediscovered some of the things I used to like to do, but haven’t had time to do, until now? What if, while they’ve been away, I considered some new roles and new career paths?

What if I discovered that I enjoy having less responsibility? Does that make me a bad mother?

My house looks different, runs differently. I buy small containers of laundry detergent, run the dishwasher twice a week, cook meals that last for several days, eat breakfast sitting down — and sometimes, that breakfast is one big cookie and a cup of tea.

My closets and drawers reflect the biggest change. The things inside them that sat on shelves for years — that I looked at but never really noticed anymore — suddenly became very noticeable. The kids’ grade-school projects, study guides, pencils, highlighters, rulers and notebooks, I finally sorted through them. The old student directories, the PTA cards, all that high school stuff which they don’t need any more, I tossed it out. I even went through my sock drawer and got rid of the single ones that have been waiting for their mate to turn up for years. The old me would have just moved the socks to the laundry room to use as dusters. But not this time. This time, I threw them away.

And the kitchen drawer with all the tiny and not-so-tiny items inside that had no relation to each other but that I had saved just in case? It’s no longer. And now I’m wondering how many dishes two people really need, and what else I can part with that I once thought that I could never part with.

The exercise machine that was gathering dust has gone to a family with three boys. I’ve reclaimed as my own the space it once occupied. My camera, once my favorite means of expressing myself, is back in business. Over the years, it had become more of a tool to document life, and had lost its luster.

As for schedules, well, I don’t know what homework or which paper is due, or when. There are no books to run out and buy at 9 pm for a class the next day, or poster board, or glue-sticks. The list of to-do’s has gone from spiral-notebook size to little-sticky size.

I do still receive emails from the kids’ old schools about volunteer opportunities. I’m not ready to delete that connection quite yet. It’s all too new, this idea that they don’t live here full-time anymore.

Last night my husband and I watched a movie about a French chef, and I remembered that I forgot to go to France. And Canada, and Wyoming, and pretty much everywhere.

And now the kids are coming home, and I’ve missed them, and the way they call my name. But I’ve missed me, too. And I didn’t realize how much until they went away and I emptied closets and drawers, getting rid of the old and making way for the new.

Last week I pulled out the spiral-sized notebook and began to make family-sized to-do lists again.

So what if, when they come home, I’m a different mother? The same loving mom, but different perhaps in other ways? I know they’ll be different young men. Will we still connect? Will we fall into old roles or ease our way into new ones?

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

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