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How To Be A Mother When Your Kids Cut The Apron Strings

My kids want independence. But am I ready to give it to them?

12/06/2016 6:30 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:53 PM AEST
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Muuuuum, leave me alone!

Each year on Mother's Day I look forward to the beautiful cards from my daughters. They are written with thought and love and mean more to me than anything else. It feels good to be validated and to know that the sacrifices I have made do not go unnoticed.

However, this year I had a wake-up call. Among the beautiful sentiments in my daughter's card was one line that stood out: "You do so much for me Mummy, sometimes too much."

These words hit me like a lightening bolt. I had noticed over the past months that my daughters were both entering a new stage of their lives where they craved independence. The problem was, I was not ready to give it to them.

It seemed the way I mothered my children had to be reassessed as their needs and wants had changed. I had only known one life as a mother, a life where I would drive them to and from school, where I would cook for them, brush their hair, help them with their homework and attend school events. Now my children want to catch the train to school, have private conversations with their friends, choose their own clothes and not share every single detail of what happened in their day with me.

I can remember a time when I was craving this -- when the job of being a single mother was so exhausting and all I wanted was some peace. However, now as I sit on my own for an evening watching the programs that we all used to watch as a family, I am confronted by how much I wish they were still sitting with me.

These nights alone have given me time to reflect and reconsider the role of this new mother that my children need me to be and I realised five crucial changes that I needed to make.

1. I need to move from controller to coach, empowering my daughters to make their own choices and fight their own battles.

2. I need to talk less and listen more so that they can reach their own outcomes and solutions.

3. I need to practice tough love. If they want the independence, they need to also take on the responsibilities that go with it.

4. I need to stand firm in my position as their mother and not become their friend, even though we are starting to speak the same language.

5. I have to trust that I have raised my children well enough that they are now well equipped to handle this new level of independence and responsibility.

I once read a quote about parenting: "The days are long and the years are short." I now understand what this truly means.

In two weeks I will take my children to the airport to board a plane to Europe where they will meet their father. This will no doubt test my resolve and mark a new era for us all.

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