Kids grow up fast. We think we have 18 years with our kids at home, and we tend to spread our love, energy and time accordingly. However … have you ever noticed that kids start getting a life of their own much sooner than 18 years old? They start wanting to be with their friends and doing their own thing starting years earlier. We don’t really have 18 years with our kids before they move on; we have more like 12.
So, what I would like to share with you today is the value of embracing every stage in the relationship you have with each of your children. If you are at the stage of sleepless nights and changing diapers, know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. There will be a time in your life when you will actually get some sleep and not be changing diapers any more. If you spend this time wanting that to come faster, you will actually miss this part of the journey. This is a time when asking for support from friends and family is essential, so you can be fully present for your little one.
For those of you who have an active toddler who runs and talks and asks questions and bubbles over with excitement constantly … rejoice! Yes, it can be tiring, and yes it can seem like forever. However … one day that will be gone too, and the innocence and childlike wonder that you see in your child during these years … that will change. Savor it. Find a way to get your tank filled in other ways, so that you can be there to truly enjoy being present as your child explores his/her world in this way.
If you are a parent who is already experiencing a child who prefers time with friends, simply accept that this is where you are in your journey together, and embrace those pockets of time when your child does still want to be with you. They are finding their individuality. It’s not personal. You can support their growth and individuality, while still being close. It is important that you stay very present to your child at this age. You will need to create guidelines and be the “parent,” while still giving them room to spread their wings. It can be a tricky dance. Awareness and being a conscious parent will make all the difference in the world.
If your child has already reached the point where they are off doing their own thing, and you think you missed something in the previous years … stop where you are and breathe. Ask yourself, “How can I be present NOW?”
The whole point of this article is to share that no matter where you are in the journey of raising your children, you always have now, and you always will. Start as early as possible to connect, to appreciate, and to enjoy the blessings and the gifts of each age ~ no matter how challenging that particular age is. Each stage comes with gifts. And, know that it is never too late to connect with your child ~ never.
My oldest son is 20 years old this month … Happy Birthday Anthony! He started breaking away at 12 years old, and at 14 he was fully in gear for separation from mom. I held tightly when needed, and let go when appropriate. There have been times when I missed my “little guy,” and there were times when I was filled with joy that my son was growing into a man. It’s all good. It’s about being human. This is what being a parent is all about.
The good news … at age 20, who do you think Anthony calls when his prized Bearded Dragon has a baby? Mom! Yippee! Oh, the joys of motherhood.
We are here to love our children, to nurture them, walk with them, let them go, and be there at every turn of their journey in life. Sometimes they will need us more than others. The best thing to do in order to savor the journey, and also to create a lasting, deep relationship, is to be present every day, every week, every month. We never stop being a mom/dad. We never stop being the hub that they can call home. We never leave their heart, and they never leave ours.
What can you do today to appreciate your child in their beauty and their challenge? Ask yourself that question every day, and before you know it, when your child is grown (and it comes very quickly), you will realize that you were there for every step of the way, and didn’t miss a thing! Congratulations! This is true parenthood.