Mothering is a lifelong experience. It might change through the years and decades as children grow and increase their independence and reach out to others to provide them with support and comfort. Being a mother never ends. It sits in the back of our mind forever, at times coming to the forefront, but it's always there, even when our kids become adults.
Nothing can prepare us completely for this. We know that babies and young children are needy and will rely on us for their very survival, but the ongoing needs of children as they become young adults and even well into adulthood can come as a surprise.
It was at a Melbourne Writers Festival event that this subject was discussed. A group of well known women talking about this very topic amongst other motherhood myths and taboos. One of them said that now her kids we adult she was able to get on her with life. When they rang she could make sympathetic noises while turning up Law and Order on TV. She expressed relief that they didn't need her any more. They had a good job, two good friends and a lover and this was described as the needs of adults - and the time when parents know they have done their job.
At the end of the talk the middle aged woman sitting next to me turned, smiled, and said "I don't know what age her kids are to be so independent." I agreed and asked her how old her kids are. The youngest is 29. With our tut-tutting sounds done, we parted company at the door, wishing each other luck.