I’ll admit it — I really struggled during the baby years. All that diaper changing and purifying food and teething and no sleep wasn’t my favorite parenting time at all. It felt like some puzzle that every time I had just about figured out, would morph into another equally confusing puzzle to be solved. But now with my son aged 9 and daughter almost 5, I want to ask old Father Time to just take a break.
I love, love, love the family dynamic at the moment. My son is still (thankfully) of the mindset that I am cool to hang out with, and we are beyond excited about a trip to a drive-in theater in two weeks to see Jaws on the big screen. Meanwhile, my daughter is at the cutest age ever; yes, 3 is cute but still difficult, whereas 4-year-olds understand everything that bit more. She is just one super sponge, soaking up all of life’s new experiences on a daily basis.
Hanging out with them isn’t a chore, which at times when they were younger, it honestly was. My best weekend so far this summer was spent taking them into London to sight-see and then attend a friend’s birthday party. Usually this kind of activity would bring me out in a cold sweat, knowing my daughter would want to visit the bathroom every 10 seconds and that they’d moan about being hungry every other minute. But at these ages, it was brilliant!
When we visit friends with kids, my son (often one of the eldest) will sweetly entertain the younger kids, and my daughter will join in with the boys — happier to play football than with dolls. It gives me a moment to sit down, cup of tea (or glass of wine) in hand, and actually relax.
We are but a hop, skip, and jump away from our son being a tween and then a teen, an age where he will no doubt become secretive and spend his days hidden in his room only emerging to communicate in monosyllabic tones. Our daughter will soon discover girls can be mean and will begin the friend merry-go-round and perhaps lose the glorious tomboy-ness she currently embraces.
I am dreading when this happens. When the visits to my friends’ houses will be met with cries of “but there will be nothing to do” or “I don’t like them.” When my son will lose his sweet disposition and no longer want to be the court jester and chief entertainer. When my daughter will squabble with other kids and the day will end in tears — mainly mine. Or worse still, when my kids won’t want to come along at all because they’ll have better things to do than hang out with Mom. They’ll be up late and then disappear off to their friends’ houses, leaving me to the peace and quiet that I have craved for so long. Yet, the silence will be deafening, the house eerily empty, my heart heavy.
My dear friend and neighbor told me that when her daughter when off to college, she cried for months; the house felt so quiet, so lonely. Every time I think about my children leaving, I feel slightly nauseous. Maybe that is why we go through the agony of the teenage years, so we all come to terms with the fact that if you do it right, your kids will some day leave the nest.
The very thought that my firstborn will be 10 next year makes me think that someone has sped up time and forgotten to tell me. Where did the years go? As I sort through school uniforms, preparing for back to school in September, I am struck by the thought that I did this a full year ago, when it feels like 2 minutes ago instead.
We really only have our children for such a short time. For me, these years are the golden ones: when we have many adventures together and I get to see the world through their eyes — everything new and shiny and exciting. Where they are just as much in awe of finding a starfish in a rock pool as they are of seeing Santa. Where they dress up to trick-or-treat and plan their birthday parties six months in advance. Where they are as happy playing with a bat and a ball as with a games console. Where riding bikes together, having picnics, building snowmen, dancing crazily in the kitchen, throwing Halloween parties, and eating cake for breakfast on their birthday are all activities they still want to do. Where they still believe that my hot chocolate is the best in the world.
In a heartbeat this will all change. So I am going to cherish every single second I have with them. Every sandcastle I build, every grazed knee I bandage, every costume I make. Because we all know, time waits for no (wo)man, no matter how much we wish it would.More On