Dear Lonely Mom of Older Kids

According to results from    Cigna’s U.S. Loneliness Index   , a survey of more than 20,000 American adults ages 18 and older, nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone or left out. Last week,    Tim DeWeese shared with our START community    that Gen Z (ages 18-22) reported the highest loneliness scores…but today’s guest blogger,    Rachel Anne Ridge   , reveals that teens aren’t the only ones who are lonely.    For moms of older kids, ”sharenting” on social media can be complicated, and in the void, loneliness can creep in.    If you are in this season of parenthood, we hope you are encouraged to know that you aren’t alone.

According to results from Cigna’s U.S. Loneliness Index, a survey of more than 20,000 American adults ages 18 and older, nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone or left out. Last week, Tim DeWeese shared with our START community that Gen Z (ages 18-22) reported the highest loneliness scores…but today’s guest blogger, Rachel Anne Ridge, reveals that teens aren’t the only ones who are lonely. For moms of older kids, ”sharenting” on social media can be complicated, and in the void, loneliness can creep in. If you are in this season of parenthood, we hope you are encouraged to know that you aren’t alone.

Remember when it was easy to post photos of your adorable baby, or messy toddler on Facebook? Remember how you could publicly bemoan sleepless nights, and kids pooping in the bathtub? How your fridge was full of magnets and finger paintings that were impossible to tell what they depicted? You could talk to your friends during playgroups, and get support during those naughty tantrums? Remember how you could Instagram just about any part of the chaos and it was still cute?

It's not that easy anymore.

It's hard to snap a photo that your middle schooler will approve of you posting on Facebook. You don't really want to share about your son's behavior when you take away the Xbox. You can't really talk about the grades - good or bad - because your kid will be mad that you overshared. Your sleepless nights are caused by worry, not teething. You wonder about the influence of peers, not playgroups. Toys are now cars and electronic games. 

There isn't a lot of cute in the chaos. Instead, there is acne and braces and attitude.

 And so much of it....you just can't talk about. Because you suddenly realize that these kids are people.

People with feelings and emotions. And you can't go around blogging about their mean math teacher or their failed attempt at choir auditions. These are things that are too precious, too priceless, too soul-baring, too hard to share. They need you to be their  safe place. They need you to keep their secrets. They need you to pick up pimple concealer at CVS and not breathe a word to anyone. They are so easily embarrassed and you must do your part to help them get through it.

And you know what? You will help them get through it. You will give them pep talks and scoldings and reminders and notes. You will give them confidence, and wings. It just takes awhile.

 And you, dear mom of older kids, will grow your own wings.

 In the middle of all this chaos, you will learn that you are made of amazing stuff. You have a backbone made of steel. You can make great vats of chili like its nobody's business. You can whip up brownies for tomorrow's homeroom party. 

You will discover that you can handle more than you ever thought you could. You will find that there is strength in quiet, that Facebook survives just fine without your photos, and that you have something incredible to offer this world.

YOU, mama, are raising kids that will take on life, and all it holds. They will become doctors and lawyers and nurses and teachers and mothers and fathers. They will remember how you loved them, how you helped them, how you sacrificed to give them a good start.

And they will thank you.

 Today, I hope you'll breathe in hopefulness and joy in your parenting. Let go of fear and anxiousness and simply enjoy that adolescent. Laugh at a fart joke. Try a new hairstyle with your daughter. Drive through Sonic for a 1/2 price slush.

Remember that these kids are your gifts, and you are theirs. There is no one who can do this better than you can, because you know them better than anyone, and you love them harder and stronger and deeper than anyone else.

With love,

An Older Mom Who's Been There - Rachel Anne

Rachel Anne Ridge is an artist and speaker, and author of several books including her newest release, “Walking with Henry: Big Lessons from a Little Donkey on Faith, Friendship, and Finding Your Path. You can learn more here.

Krista Boan