This week, our oldest son turns 14! F-O-U-R-T-E-E-N! While it has become almost obligatory to voice a trite observation such as “time flies” or “I can’t believe how fast it has gone,” I am NOT going to make those observations (didn’t you hate it when you had tiny babies and people were forever saying those two phrases to you? I wanted to reply, “Wrong! Time is not flying. In fact, I haven’t been out of the house in a week and time is standing still”). No, what I want to share is that I actually enjoy my children growing older and growing up. I really do.
Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adored being the mother of young children. But that was really about me – not about them. I enjoyed being a mother when they were home full-time because I had a very definable, necessary, critical role in their lives. Our day was structured around eating and naps, but it was also full of freedom: The freedom to spend a morning painting or looking at bugs or swinging; the freedom to read books all afternoon or make cookies. It didn’t matter what we did, because most everything we did was done with enthusiasm and was enriching to them or me or all of us (a glaring exception being the “freedom” to spend a powder day on the bunny slopes – no one was enriched by that, especially the three-year-old stuck in powder up to his waist and unable to move).
As our sons went off to elementary school, I began questioning myself. If I was no longer the mother of “small children,” who was I? What was my role going to be? How was I going to structure my days? How much freedom would I have as they became increasingly busy after school with activities? No longer the mother of “small children,” I had to look closely at my own identity. Who would I become?
At some point during the elementary school years, I realized that as I began to identify myself less clearly with my children, they were growing into themselves and identifying themselves as unique, wonderful individuals. Was I going to be trapped in sentimentality or embrace the exciting reality of them growing up?
This really was no choice at all. They are growing. They are excited to grow. They are learning. They are excited to learn. As they grow larger and stronger and more physically coordinated, their pleasure in life and its activities increases.
As they grow intellectually more sophisticated, their pleasure in thought and contemplation increases. Each day is new and exciting and full of challenges to a growing child and adolescent. Watching them grow, participating with them in the expanding horizons of their young lives is exciting to my husband and I as parents. Their lives are not our lives, but their lives are lives in which we can share, just as they share in ours.
We are the parents of a newly-minted fourteen year old boy. While that makes me feel a bit old, it truly makes me feel proud.
© 2010, braveskimom. All rights reserved. Any use or publication of content, including photos, requires express permission.