MamaBlogger365 – Motherhood’s Liminal Space by Catherine Childress

This summer is the first in three that I have been completely free of college classes and homework. Although I have chosen never to attend traditional summer classes, opting instead to be home with the kiddos, I have taken online classes which is quite time consuming.

The end of May found me counting down days until the kids were home from school so we could enjoy summer totally unencumbered by schedules – theirs or mine. I looked forward to all the things we would do together, recreating memories of summers past when I followed behind their bikes to the empty high school parking lot, perfect for riding to their heart’s content, sitting by the community pool while they played in shallow water with their friends, and afternoons at the park.

Here in August, kids back in school, graduate school swiftly approaching, I reflect back on a summer which turned out quite different than I expected.

The two kids who are still interested in riding bikes (as opposed to driving cars) are perfectly capable and quite willing to ride all by themselves, three houses down, to the high school parking lot where they can safely ride endlessly. Sure, I could tag along, but in a society where many kids don’t have the luxury of wide open spaces in which to play, I am thankful that my children do and that they can experience the freedom and confidence that comes from performing this act on their own. Likewise, they don’t need me to sit by the pool, much less get in with them, anymore. Older brother is generally happy to take them with him most any day. Their need for me on pool days is limited to taxi and ATM. Again, I am pleased that my oldest son is willing to spend time with the little kids, to have them keep company with his friends, and that he is responsible enough to make their safety his primary concern.

So, although we have had many adventures this summer and I cherish them all, it seems as though my children have reached the age that they no longer need me with the same intensity as they did a couple years ago. They are content to go about their business and for me to go about mine – problem is, they are the only business I have had the past few months.

Today, the eve of my oldest son’s 16th birthday, I clearly see that this fading summer has been the liminal space for me as a mother. The place where I no longer have to tie shoes, pour cereal, and monitor their every move. The place that five years ago I was probably begging to be. The place where I say goodbye to the mother I have been and begin to discover the mother I am going to be – to a boy who is taller than I, sports a full beard, and now forces me to share his heart with a cute little blonde, to an adolescent daughter who, along with all the standard issue difficulties of being a “tween,” faces medical issues that I can’t imagine dealing with at her age or even now, to a baby boy who is anything but a baby to everyone but me and asserts his independence in every way possible.

I don’t know how to be that Mama – so much so that upon realizing my days of mothering children totally dependent on me are over, my first instinct was to attempt to convince my husband to have his vasectomy reversed so we could have another baby (I’m guessing you know how that turned out). I hope my kids can take comfort in that fact that although I have no idea how to be the mother they are going to need now, when they were born I didn’t know how to be a mother at all, and based on how far they have come, dragging me kicking and screaming behind them, I must have done something right.

Bio: Catherine Childress is the mother of three; visit her blog at

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Photo credit: Adam Beevers|MorgueFile

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