46 and the Naked Tree

46 is a weird age.  It is on the side closer to 50 and 40 seems like a while ago. I assume that, like me, everyone over 40 thought that they would have way more figured out by this time in their lives than they actually have. This Christmas I have been really trying to figure out what this stage is all about and I have gotten nowhere so hence…..the blog. Maybe by the end I will have some clarity.

For 18 years we have had our traditional Christmas tree decorating event. It was never a fancy shindig but the you-put-each-and-every-ornament-I-have-bought-you-each-year-of-your-life-and-enjoy-it kind of fiesta. Ok so it was never all that fun with at least 2 precious, sentimental, hand picked soccer balls or clarinets crashing to the ground and me not wanting to become even more crazy during forced family fun. This year? The tree….is naked. Yep. Bins of ornaments in the living room and nothing adorning the tree. And me? Not as crazy as I have been in the past! I  said I would not get the tree out this year but Cooper at 13 thought that was a little too Grinchish.

I have looked at the bin, looked at the tree and said to myself, “Oh well” and not been secretly angry and plotting my next guilt trip that if they loved me they would hang ornaments. My kids are at the ages where they are studying for finals, working extra shifts for Christmas money and preparing for concerts. The moments I do get with them are fleeting these days and I am learning to be ok with that. I have been through the worried mom holy-crap-they-are-driving stage and survived one car being totaled and another mirror knocked completely off the side of the car. By the same son, I might add. I have been the freaked out one when they go on the interstate without me. I have fretted through dating and curfews….and survived to tell about it. dsc_8026 dsc_8028

I have grown ok with no one being home at the same time to eat dinner and have enjoyed that I don’t have to cook all that often. Cooper can cook a mean quesadilla when he gets hungry enough and for the first time fast food and pizza are regular menu items. Evenings that were filled with family dinners, projects and homework have slowly waned and I am finding myself for the first time.

For a week I have been texting my kids to tell them I need to get them together for their Christmas picture. They are thankful I am over the matching plaid shirts and corduroy pants outfits and honestly I don’t even care what they wear anymore but no one is here at the same time. Solution? Separate pictures will make a great collage!

I never thought I could enjoy seeing my children become independent because it seemed like the “good mommies” cry and beg their children to invite them to do things together. The “good mommies” still make their lunches and stay on top of their every move.  Since I have a husband who was independent at a very young age, he has groomed the boys to do the same and at times it was hard but now I could not be more thankful.

As I watch one set his alarm for 6 am to get to work and one play guitar til his fingers are sore, I know we are where we are supposed to be.  The balance of school, work, life, and family is a lot for any teenager and as they figure themselves out I watch with fascination and anticipation for the men they are becoming.

I can choose to resent the life they are establishing for themselves or I can embrace that I have done my job the best I knew how. I can look at them and remember the footie pajamas and Buzz Lightyear costumes and know that those days are long gone and ok….start to cry. I am not going to lie. I miss it at times. The sippy cups and Cheerios seemed like it was a phase that would never end and now I just wish sometimes that we could curl up with One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. ….but as I look up to their handsome faces (literally- they are all taller than my 5’7 self) I am at peace knowing we did what we could with what we had at the time. Certainly not perfect parenting and sometimes probably pretty sucky parenting…..but we did it together and above all- they have always known how much we love them.

So as I enjoy my naked tree and the 2 other themed ones I put up for the first time ever, I am ok with where I am and the fact that no one has noticed the bare branches. If we get to it in between college finals and Chick-fil-A shifts then that is fine and if we take it down the same way we put it up, I will be ok with that too.