Toe and Fingernail Grief

A few months ago, it seemed like all of a sudden, my kids didn’t want me to cut their nails anymore. I know this may sound like a dream to many of you, but I have a thing with nail cutting and have always enjoyed cutting my kids’ nails.

Full disclosure, I also save their baby teeth and help pull them out too. I tend to like things that are half gross and half cool.

Anyways, I favor short nails and all but one of my kiddos tend to like to let their nails grow until they are long enough to collect lots of dirt underneath and very hard to clean. 

So, the routine usually was nails would grow until I noticed a lot of dirt and put my foot down that “TODAY WAS THE DAY”. Then out with the clippers and dirty nails fall one by one in the toilet. The sense of satisfaction I get from that leaves me with a high for a little while (no joke). 

Imagine my surprise and disappointment when the announcements were made that my nail services were no longer needed. A grief came over me and I missed those little kids with their little dirty nails that used to live in my house. 

This whole situation got me thinking about all the things that kids outgrow and no longer need help with, which often frees us mamas up for other things. To be completely honest, I sometimes fight this situation or don’t really notice it and squander my time and energy on meaningless things.

My youngest child is 11 and the other two living at home are 15 and 12. They are so much more independent than they were a few years ago and a lot has changed in the ways I parent them. 

I remember when my life revolved around bottles, diapers, naps, temper tantrums, bedtimes and timeouts. I dreamed about these days when there would be less physical work to do and I could sit down and breathe for a few minutes and even have time and energy for things I wanted to do. I couldn’t wait! 

And now that I’m here there is excitement and grief mixed together. I am constantly learning about this transition to having all tweens and teens in the house and no “little ones”. 

Over the past few years, I have done a lot of work figuring out what I truly like to do and cultivating these areas of my life. I had to work through many lies that I believed about prioritizing myself, especially as a mother. I had to come to a place where I was ready to allow myself to have an identity outside of being a wife and a mother. I had to learn that it’s best for everyone when I give myself permission to be Shannon and to not place my identity in what I do and the roles I hold, but rather in WHO I AM and who I have been created to be. 

One of my favorite quotes is from Carl Yung, a Swiss Psychologist:

“The greatest burden of a child is the unlived life of their mother.”

Chew on that for a minute. 

I come back to this quote over and over again. It is a springboard for me when I get scared, or I am tempted to go back to martyrdom thinking that’s the mark of a “good mom”. I come back to this truth and remember that the best thing I can do for my children and husband is prioritize my life, my dreams, my passions, my goals, my peace, my health, my spirituality, my joy and all the rest of my parts. 

Not in a selfish way, actually quite the opposite! 

As I thought about all this, I realized that not being needed or wanted to cut nails anymore is a gift. It’s a gift of time and energy that is being put back in my bank so that I can nurture myself. Maybe it’s only a few minutes here and there that I am now “off-duty” when in the past I would have been needed. But it also adds on to all the other little things that are no longer on my parenting plate. These add up and free me up for other things, if I allow them to. 

Now instead of cutting nails, I use the extra few minutes to talk with my husband, do a few exercises or stretches, read for a few minutes or just allow myself to be still and breathe. It’s quite liberating, refreshing and joyful when I lean in and allow myself to embrace all of this. 

Although, I did kind of bully a child last week into me cutting his toenails. 

Hey, progress not perfection! 

He did kind of like it though 🙂