You never think this time is going to come. You start this parenting journey and it seems so long and tiring at first. It’s all sleepless nights and endless laundry and constant washing and feeding and worrying. Well, the worrying never stops, anyway. You think, if I can just get a full night’s sleep, I’ll be okay. Then, if I can just go a day without cleaning pee from the floor or clothes, I’ll be okay. And then, you wish for them to just be able to play by themselves for a little while, or do their homework on their own, to just be able to drive themselves somewhere… just so…. so you can what?
Well, the quiet time is coming, and I don’t think it’s really what we want.
When I first became a parent, I felt like the most inexperienced person for the job. I’d scarcely held any babies. I didn’t have many friends who were moms. I had NO IDEA what I was doing. But I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone in that.
Now here I am, facing the Year of Lasts with Oldest Daughter. The last first day of school. The last Halloween at home. The last dance recital she’ll perform in. The last theater production, the last school concert…
It’s so utterly overwhelming.
At the same time, I look at her, this little girl who didn’t know how to skip when she was three years old; this past December she danced the part of the Snow Queen in the Nutcracker on pointe, and volunteers with an adaptive dance program. The little girl who used to say “lellow” for yellow, is writing feature articles and serving as the managing editor for print for Ingress Magazine.
And part of me asks myself, “How did I not mess this up??”
I look at Middle Daughter and marvel and her strength and stamina. Here’s a girl who gave a whole new meaning to the phrase “terrible two’s”, who used to lay on the floor and scream for an hour after we’d get home from day care. I would just step over her and carry on with my business. Now this year, as a freshman in high school, she pulled straight A’s, she danced the part of “Clara” in the Nutcracker, has had lead roles in the theater productions at school, and has a weekend job.
How does this happen?
And Youngest Son, my little man, who was literally non-verbal at 18 months and had a “Birth-to-Three” speech specialist come and work with him for an entire year… his teachers now have called him an “amazing writer with a strong voice” and he can easily write ten page stories.
Did we do this? Did we somehow bring this out in our kids? I feel like Husband and I are just two people who fell in love and decided to make a go of it.
Some days we felt like we were just barely scraping by, emotionally and physically. The major accomplishments of parenthood for those days were, well, at least no one lost a finger/toe and nothing was set on fire.
I wished for time to pass, so they could be more independent. I got my wish.
I feel I’ve got a little more time with Middle Daughter and Youngest Son; I keep telling myself that I can still do things, still teach them things. But Oldest Daughter is going to college in less than five months. The prevailing questions are, Did I do this right? Did I teach her enough to be out there, on her own?
Because if she ends up in therapy, it’s all on me.
What is parenthood if not an entire journey of second-guessing yourself? Of worrying to the point of anxiety? Of longing for their independence, yet at the same time wanting them to still need you? Push and pull, push and pull. Go on, go on. Come back, come back.
No wonder we all look so tired all the time.
“Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.” Indeed.