New Groove

Have you seen Disney’s Emperor’s New Groove? If not, make note. It is a must see… even after you read the following SPOILER ALERT!

This animated feature film is about a spoiled rotten self-absorbed emperor who gets turned into a llama by his advisor, the evil sorceress Yzma. After much difficulty and pain to both himself and every other character in the movie, he learns a few lessons and lives a new tune, dances to a new groove.

Now, I honestly don’t relate to the selfish leader, but when I titled today’s blog, this beloved movie came to mind and the theme made sense.

I love being Mom. I caught on quick. I balanced work and parenting and volunteering starting when the kids entered kindergarten. I thrive in this role. Aww, the days when they loved me and liked me and couldn’t get enough of me. I was in the groove. As they got older, things slowly started shifting; it went from wiping butts, to buying tampons. From watching rated G movies to Rated R. But my groove for the most part stayed the same.

And then BOOM… suddenly I have high school and college kids. My groove was thrown off. Sometimes they don’t like me. I’m definitely not their favorite person all the time. They do their own thing. And I do mine. I set boundaries that they press against with stubborn strength. For the last 20 years, my life has been a single colorful blanket. Individual colors weaved in, each color a representation of the three kids, with a hint of my husband’s hue. Now, each child is their own blanket. My husband’s hue colors a larger portion of my blanket… and I realize that I am my own color. I’m not ONLY the combination of my kids’ colors.

I’ve felt pain. There’s been unspeakable moments of heartbreak (like when my senior decided she isn’t comfortable with me going with her to take her senior pictures). It’s been a challenge. I’ve been sad. I’ve been confused. I’ve felt like I screwed up. I’ve been proud of myself and my kids. There have been plenty of moments that I’ve been grateful that the kids can make their own dinner, or stay home overnight without us.

Family dinner was important when the kids were growing up. Now, it’s difficult to get everyone together on the same night. This week, Jesse and I ate dinner with each child individually on a different night.

I have always got off work early to be with the kids when they got out of school. Now, when I get off work early, they’re already gone with friends, or off to work. So, now I work until five and take a two-hour lunch break early in the day… when I know the kids will be home. It’s turned out to be a fabulous opportunity to spend time with them.

No doubt, there will be more butting heads and bumps in the road (like trying to get our almost-19-year-old son to get a real job). But I’ve seen that a little provision, a little change on my part can help the kids continue to grow up, and still nurture our relationship. The relationship is evolving and changing as my kids grow into young adults, dipping their feet in true independence.

Earlier today, Phoenix compared parents to ‘Hungries’. Hungries are zombie-like beings from a book she recently read. They are sedentary until they are stimulated. She wondered out loud what parents do for fun. And said they were like Hungries, just existing in a comatose state, waiting for an opportunity to attack their children with attention. Very funny. Although I do still look for every opportunity to spend time with the kids (I really don’t see that ever changing), I now have time to do things for me. To get a massage. To read. To have dinner with a friend. I am spending a great deal of time with my husband, the amazing partner that took a back seat during elementary school PTA. We fish, we walk the dog, we watch Schitz Creek (another must-see).

Things are different. Some of the changes are unwelcome. But today, I can honestly say that I am pleased with my relationship with all three of my adult (or near-adult) children, and my husband. Nothing is perfect. But I am happy. Had I continued dancing the steps of yesterday, I may be singing the blues. But thankfully, Mama is working on a new groove.