Some parents—like me—have this misguided notion that everything will always be the same and that the kids will always be there to celebrate holidays, good times, and everything in between. But as my kids get older—almost 18 and 13—I’m finding that, just like they are supposed to, they are enjoying making their own connections and traditions and branching out on their own.
Every year, we get together with another family whose oldest is my oldest child’s best friend; they also have a son, who although more than three years older than mine, will always watch a game or play with Barbieri child #2. This year, the girls had two different parties to attend, one right on the same street and another in town that they had to drive to. My friend’s daughter was dressed to the nines in gorgeous ankle-strap black suede pumps while my daughter went for a more casual look. One came home early, the other late, but both had reveled with their own friends and didn’t kiss their parents at the stroke of midnight.
I am working hard to adjust to this change. I used to scoff at people who would coo over one of my adorable children, still a baby, and say, “Enjoy it now. It goes really fast,” meaning that in the blink of an eye, your baby would be all grown up and ready to fly the coop. I would laugh. What did these people know?
I told my husband that I am now the person doing the cooing and telling people to enjoy their babies now because before they know it, they’ll be off on their own, living their own lives. And the people I tell this to look at me like I’m crazy.
I once heard it said that when raising children, and particularly when caring for babies, “the days are long but the years fly by.” A truer statement has never been uttered. As you trod the floor at night with a screaming baby, it seems like that night will never end but just when you think you have this sleeping thing nailed down, the kid is up all night again, but for a different reason: they are a teenager and teenagers like to stay up late. Granted, there’s no crying anymore, hopefully, but you’re still up and you’re still worried, especially if they are not home.
I am loathe to make New Year’s resolutions but this year, with a daughter going to college in the fall—the longest stint of sleepaway camp known to parents—I’m going to try to remain focused on the present, enjoying every bit of the time we have together, not focused on what will happen in the future. I know that once she leaves here and experiences the world beyond the doors of our little Village colonial, her eyes will be opened to all the great things she can accomplish. And as Martha would say, “And that’s a good thing.”