Working Myself Out of a Job

It is a cruel irony of motherhood that working yourself out of a job is the main goal.

My kids are racing at breakneck speed toward college, which means that my empty nest is just around the corner. It feels that way, at any rate. Our household is already abuzz with talk of colleges and majors and scholarships. Exactly five years after my eldest flies the nest, my baby will follow suit, and I have a strong suspicion that my transition from full, chaotic house to empty, quiet house will feel sudden and painful.

“But then,” I lecture myself, “What’s the alternative? Do you really want four emotionally dependent, adult-size children lurking around, unable to function as adults, playing Minecraft on your only TV for the next ten years?” Of course I do not want that. Minecraft is super boring to watch. Also, I want my kids to step into their purpose, to make their own mark on the world.

It’s just that I wonder where that will leave me.

I changed someone’s diaper for eight years straight. I hold a PhD in Entertaining Small Children While Waiting At the DMV, with a concentration in Splinter Removal From Thrashing Body Parts. I am good with the little ones. Little kids like me. They think I am Hilarious.

But there are no little ones in my house anymore. The secret has long been discovered that I did not, in fact, hang the moon. My son still laughs at my stupid jokes, God bless him, even though his sisters sometimes stare at me like I have two heads. All of them still like my meatballs, and that’s something. They still come to me with their problems, and that is a tremendous gift. But I am not the center of their world anymore.

And that is absolutely how it should be.

So I will continue to work myself out of a job. Become more Mentor and less Benevolent Dictator. I’ll coach them through making choices and living with consequences, cheer them on and speak hard truth with great love. I will cherish the cuddles that are becoming rarer, and find comfort in knowing that they know they are deeply loved. And I will watch, with awe, the increasingly frequent glimpses of the women and men God created them to be.

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