In the last little while, I have been coming to the realization that my children are growing and maturing so fast that I can’t even process it. I know every parent goes through this–kids need their parents less and less and prefer to do their own thing or play with friends to sitting down and having a chat with their mother. When I drop them off at school now, most of the time they don’t want a hug and a kiss; they will either just get out and tell me they love me or let me give them a kiss on the cheek. My oldest son’s voice is changing and getting deeper, and he is sprouting up like a bean stalk. He makes his own eggs and toast for breakfast sometimes, and he’s old enough now that he can be left alone for an hour while I run to the grocery store around the corner. It’s crazy that it’s all happening right before my eyes.
While this is obviously the natural flow of things as we are raising them to be independent and able to take care of themselves, it is a sad time for a parent. I knew to expect it in the same moment I realized that they were going to have to go to school and face bullies, broken hearts, etc. and that I would not be able to keep them safe and protect them from everything for their entire lives. But I cannot help but think of all the time I have wasted while they were young. Everyone has regrets, but I would do things much differently if I had the chance to start all over again.
I wouldn’t have been feeling sorry for myself for so long, for making bad choices and not being in the most ideal situation from a parental standpoint. I wallowed in self-pity and was so angry with myself that everything else took a back seat. I poured all of my precious energy into trying to fix broken relationships that could never have amounted to anything, but I refused to give up because I didn’t want to fail again. I wasted so much time trying to find the man of my dreams that I let a lot of little moments pass me by when I should’ve been there, PRESENT, in the moment.
One day I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and start fighting back, and start truly living life because–let’s face it, the cards were already dealt and there wasn’t much choice left but to move on and learn from it. I focused more on the boys, got to know them better, learned to recognize when they were being affected by something, made every effort to show them that I am always here for them and I always will be, no matter what the issue. I’ve always told them I’d never lie to them, and when things come up I give them the most honest, age-appropriate answer I can. I think they are confident in that knowledge because they do sometimes come up and blow me away with some amazing conversation, which in itself is pretty cool because they are growing into intelligent little men and they definitely have a little bit of me in them.
Last night we had all three kids with us but we went to an after-school event celebrating diversity and culture, and we all got to try foods from different places all over the world–even sweet potato pudding from Jamaica!–and by the time we got home, the roasted chicken that had been cooking to perfection in the oven was packed into some Tupperware and put in the fridge. That left me with a good two hours that were suddenly free, whereas normally dinner is a big event, lots of dishes need to be done, my oldest needs to check his blood sugar and I’m counting carbs and it’s just a mess. But last night… nobody needed me! I took Murphy out for a walk on our longer route, which takes about an hour, and it was so quiet and the evening breeze felt so nice on my skin. I kept thinking “I should get home before my phone dies, everyone’s probably wondering where I am!” But when I got home, life was just going on and it appeared that nobody even noticed I was gone. They were all on their video games and YouTube and Pokémon, and it was like I had never even left.
So I guess, as much as it is tough at times to accept that your children are growing and becoming more independent and less needy of their parents’ time, there are bonuses to making it this far. This is the first real glimpse I’ve had of how much easier it’s going to be the older they get, when I will still have time to get everything done but also know that they are going to be fine because I trust them to make the right choices in life. Maybe it’s a bit early to say for sure, but I’m going to try to stay optimistic until I’m proven otherwise 😉