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Just Unlike My Mother: Why My World Won't Revolve Around My Kids

I don't want to make my kids my life, and I’m happy about my decision.

Now, before it sounds like I am going to be a nominee for "Worst Mother of the Year," let me explain. While I was growing up, my mother loved me almost too much. Her love for me was the kind of love every child deserves to have.

She was – and continues to be – in my corner whether I’m right or wrong. She's supportive of every decision I make, and she has always demonstrated her willingness to go above and beyond to assist my needs or make sure I feel secure.

She’s my nominee for the BMA Award (Best Mom Around Award), but here’s the kicker: I don’t want to be exactly like her when I have kids.

My mom chose to view motherhood as a job, a job she’s darn good at. She’s the best at fixing skinned knees, mending broken hearts, telling vulgar jokes and making homemade chicken noodle soup.

She carries my picture in her purse, and it's not just one picture. She has four pictures of me at different ages with all of my prom dates I haven't spoken to in 10 years. She talks about me to her coworkers like I’m one of the gang.

She even introduces me to sales clerks, yard sales hosts, movie ticket tellers, the gas attendant and that leaf of grass if it had eardrums and showed any interest in listening. She talks about me as if I am her entire world, and I am.

Being in the center of someone’s universe comes with a significant price of letting go. Now, my mom will argue she has let me go. Considering the fact I moved away when I was 18 years old, she did physically let me out of her sight. But emotionally, we’re still tied together.

The idea of leaving home (again) is met with supportive sadness, but sadness nonetheless. Vacations are greeted with well-wishes, bouts of crying and a promise I’ll call when we get to the airport.

It sounds overbearing, but it’s not. It’s her way of showing love, the kind of love one only feels when she's made someone else her largest center of her world.

I really don’t want to do that.

Don’t confuse the fact that I won’t make my kids my life, with the idea that they won’t be first priority. My family will be my number one.

My family will be my life, but my kids don’t need to feel that burden. They deserve to feel free enough to explore the world without my hand lingering over them.

I want them to be confident and secure enough to not feel like they need to be tied down to our small town when they dream about attending college. I want them to feel free enough to move to LA, New York or Paris if that’s what their hearts desire.

I refuse to let me kids operate off fear or worry they need to stay at home because "Mom will miss me."

Of course, I’ll miss them, and they’ll know. And I vow to spend every minute of my life reminding them of how much they mean to me.

They’ll know at the core of my being is my one and only desire for them to be happy. But, I want that happiness they feel to be representative of who they are, not what I am comfortable with.

I may not be okay with what they decide to do every single time. In fact, I know I won’t. I may disagree with my son’s desire to drop out of college to pursue acting because all his life, he dreamed about seeing himself on the silver screen.

I may hate the fact my daughter doesn't like wearing makeup, when I’m not sure what my eyes even look like without eyeliner. But, their lives are not about me. Different things will make each of us happy.

What makes me happy is sitting on my front porch with a cup of coffee and writing. What makes me happy is waking up next to their father, who has eyes as deep as mocha. What makes me happy is waking up on a Tuesday morning and surprising everyone with Mickey Mouse shaped waffles.

What will make us happy depends on our souls, and that’s precisely why I can’t make my kids my life. Their souls will be different than mine.

They’ll have passions igniting their veins that I never had. They’ll want to live in different towns, in far-off cities, writing their own tales of romance and heartbreak. I don’t believe that if I made them my existence, they would feel comfortable enough to do those things.

Now, as I said, my mother continues to be supportive of me. She’s had my back on every poor decision and every great idea that came crashing down. But, I wonder about what her life will be like without me.

She’ll have my father. They’ll go to the movies and out to eat. They’ll spend weekends going to yard sales and auctions because it’s something they love to do.

She’ll come home and hop into bed on Saturday night, watching a marathon of ghost stories my dad doesn’t believe in. Their life will be functioning, but her life, in many ways, will be over. That duty she had — the mothering, the washing of laundry, cooking dinners and buying shoes — will be over.

She’ll be left in a decent house with an empty attic, but nothing more.

I don’t want to make my children my life because the emptiness that will exist will be paramount to what any parent should have to deal with.

Children eventually turn into adults with their own identities, desires to take chances, move away and fall passionately and vigorously in love.

But parents need to be able to move on from the "what now?" sentiment of confusion that lingers as children leave the nest.

I don’t want to make my kids my life because eventually, they’re going to grow up and want to fly away. And they deserve to do so.

You only live once, and so do they.