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When they no longer need you: The emotion of kids getting older

In Features, Motherhood, Stories by Nicole Fuge

‘You’re lucky you have time…’ How coffee with a friend changed my perspective of motherhood and my kids.

By Nicole Fuge, Mama Disrupt® Managing Editor

Motherhood is a journey filled with countless phases, each bringing its own joys and challenges. The early years are intense – our little ones rely on us for everything, from feeding and changing to comfort and guidance. It’s a full-time job, and while it’s exhausting, it’s also incredibly rewarding.

Right now, I’m in the throes of early motherhood. My days are a blur of sticky hands, endless questions, and a never-ending to-do list. It feels like everyone wants a piece of me – my kids, my husband, even myself as I try to snatch moments of ‘me time’ between the chaos. It’s hectic, it’s full, and it’s undeniably hard.

Recently, I caught up with a friend who is ‘out the other side.’ Her kids are finishing school and moving out of home. She’s on the cusp of an empty nest, and while she speaks of the new-found freedom, there’s a wistfulness in her eyes.

As she described the empty bedroom, the quiet house and the absence of constant demands, I realised something profound. While my life right now is overwhelmingly overwhelming and full to the brim, the thought of that future emptiness feels almost too hard to fathom.


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The waves of change

As our children grow, they begin to assert their independence. They dress themselves, make their own breakfast, and navigate their social worlds with increasing confidence. This is a natural and necessary part of their development, but for many of us, it can be a bittersweet experience.

On one hand, watching your children become independent individuals is a proud moment. It’s a testament to the nurturing environment you’ve provided and the skills you’ve imparted. On the other hand, it can also leave you feeling a bit lost. The constant busyness that once filled your days starts to diminish, and with it, a sense of purpose.

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Your feelings are always valid

It’s important to acknowledge these feelings and give yourself the grace to process them. Remember: the bond you share with your children doesn’t end as they grow older; it simply evolves. Your role shifts from being a caretaker to a guide, and eventually, a confidante. These transitions can be challenging, but they also offer opportunities for new types of connection and growth.

It’s okay to miss the days when your children needed you for everything. It’s a sign of the deep love and dedication you’ve poured into your role as a mother (and I don’t think that will ever go away). Embrace the changes, cherish the memories, and look forward to the many wonderful stages of motherhood that still lie ahead.

You are – and always will be – their mum.

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