I remember the days when “Mommy’s Morning Out” was a desperately deserved break from the needful ways of a toddler. Small children are exhausting — entertainingly and adorably so, mind you, but exhausting, nonetheless. I sure did relish the chance to pretend like I had my own life when the opportunity arose.

To all of you mothers out there navigating the new home-bound reality of rearing your children with very few activities to distract them from the belief that you are solely responsible for their entertainment, you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Getting my child raised and out the door to a fabulous career as a genius Georgia Tech student is, without question, the greatest accomplishment of my lifetime. I am so proud of her and I love the prudent and principled young woman she has become!

I have enjoyed the next life phase of giving up my parental duties to pursue some of my own dreams. We parents often put some of those personal goals on the back burner to trek to ball games and dance recitals, and the adjustment to focusing on what I want to do has been pretty darn fun.

But, can I just say that having her around the last several months has reminded me that I actually wish she didn’t have to grow up and move on!

God has a pretty bad sense of humor when it comes to turning us into parents. Mothers in particular, I must say, mostly because that is the version that I have endured.

We mothers are forced to irreparably injure our bodies to build and birth them, to act as their main source of sustenance for as long as we can stand it, and to teach them and train them and mold them into fabulous human beings 24/7/365/18 years, at least.

And what do they do to repay us? Leave the nest to create their own fabulous adventures without us, leaving us to fend for ourselves in a cruel and lonely world.

OK, OK, I’m being a little melodramatic, but as a single mom I’m allowed to feel that way. Who is left to help me keep the house clean and the plants watered and the animals fed? No one, that’s who.

I’m just kidding, of course, it is what they are supposed to do, this learning to live without us. In the rare instance that Ramsey would give me attitude as a teenager I would tell her that yes, it is your job right now to separate from us, but you can do it with respect because your father and I are the ones who got you this far.

These last few months have reminded me how great it is to have my child in the house. Who doesn’t benefit from having someone around who basically has to do whatever you tell them to?

If I’m too busy or tired to clean up the kitchen, I can ask her to do it and she kind of has to say yes, doesn’t she? I mean, I have done so much for her over the course of her life, she sort of owes me, right?

If I want her to watch a particular movie with me, or help me in my garden beds or go on a bee swarm capturing adventure with me, can she really say no?

Of course, she is perfectly privileged to deny me. She’s 21 and no longer legally in my charge, but I’m spoiled by the fact that she often says yes during this unexpected time at home. She doesn’t have a lot of other things to do.

I often tell her that I feel sorry for where she finds herself, having to move home to her two houses in Rome, three parents wanting to include her in all that we do. If you had told me as a rising senior in college that I had to move back home indefinitely and spend most of my time with my parents, I would have protested more than a little — but having experienced this time with my daughter has made me feel sorry for my parents, and me, that we didn’t have such a mandate in my youth.

I tend to look at the world through rose-colored glasses when possible, and while I know there are terrible things that have come out of this pandemic around the world and very close to home, I can’t help but look for the blessings, and this extra time with my daughter is one of the very best parts.

As I write this, I am fresh from a fantastic bee adventure with Ramsey that had us laid out on our backs, side by side, under an office trailer, vacuuming a gazillion bees from the floor they had decided to make their new home. We laughed and sang made-up songs (my favorite was “Oh, when the bees go marching in…”) and we worked together on a task that would have been difficult, at best, on my own.

On the way to and fro, Ramsey acted as my secretary, sending needed emails and text messages, keeping up with the directions, putting buffalo sauce on my chicken biscuit — all the things that the human that I carried in my womb ought to do!

What was God thinking when he decided that we should struggle so hard to bring them into the world and give us no option but to get terribly attached to their awesome little selves, only to make it so that they leave us in the end?

If I had my druthers, they would stick around far longer. But, maybe that is just how I’m feeling right now. I’ll get tired of her again, I suppose, but for right now, the new ideal “Mommy’s Morning Out” is the time that I get to spend with her on our little adventures. And I know that I will remember these days fondly for years to come.

Monica Sheppard is a freelance graphic designer, beekeeper, mother and community supporter living in Rome.

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