Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Motherhood & More: The kids grow up and, somehow, so do the parents*

Adele took this one.
The other day, my husband turned to me and said, “He’s 7. How did that happen?”

He was, of course, referring to our son, our oldest. It’s so strange how that transpires. One minute you’re wishing and wishing for time to go faster, for you to be older and more independent, then the next, you’re the mother of an almost-tween who acts more like a 30-year-old than most 30-year-olds.

And he does. He’s always thoughtful and responsible, forever trying to improve things about himself — whether it’s increasing the amount of healthy foods he eats or decreasing his screen time. He’s so proud for doing what he considers the right thing and always is quick to call his parents out for doing things they shouldn’t — such as forgetting to recycle.

He’s goofy but shy, respectful but kind of gross in that he loves bodily function humor. He’s learning to play chess and  always is improving on the soccer field. He still will hold my hand in public and give me hugs and kisses, but I know it won’t be long before that changes.

It’s absolutely insane. I don’t feel like the mother of a 7-year-old. I feel like me, you know? I feel like who I was, the same weirdo-goofball I’ve always been. But now there are small people forever needing me.

I’ve never minded growing older. I absolutely believe age is just a number. I’m so much happier and satisfied now than I ever was in my 20s. Of course, having young children will exhaust you to the point where you don’t even remember what it was like before they were there. But there are no regrets. I never feel like I’m truly missing anything. Often, I would like more time to myself, to do exactly what I want to do. But, in my eyes, that’s not the same thing as wishing to be alone.

It’s hard, sometimes, being a parent. It’s hard to remain yourself, to keep that part of you that is only you, not Mama or Wife. And I think it’s absolutely essential to grow and evolve once you are caring for another human being 24-7. Because how could you not?

Your entire life is flipped around and most of your thoughts will switch from, “How will this affect me?” to, “How will this affect my child?” (Or, in many instances, “How can I get more sleep?”)
It’s such a fantastic thing, that development. Nothing else but parenthood can change you like that – from selfish to selfless.

And every time my youngest gets up in the middle of the night to crawl into bed with us, I remind myself of this. She won’t always do it. I need to enjoy it now because it’s part of our story, part of my evolution.

Neither of my children will be small for very much longer, and already it feels like it’s slipping away.

But for now I’m still Mama. And that’s just fine by me.

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on Sept. 23, 2015.


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