To all parents with babies who aren’t quite babies anymore:
Let me try and explain. Have you looked at your kids lately? I mean, really looked.
Is there hair somewhere on their body where it wasn’t before?
Have they grown a few inches this year?
Do they wear their clothes differently? Maybe a new style?
Now, the following line might shock you: Your kids are growing up! Right before your very eyes. You blinked, and they are toddlers, middle schoolers, teens, or young adults.
But when did it happen? I don’t think I was there. When did they grow up?
I have loved every minute: being present for all of their moment, watching them learn to read and write, and more. It is honestly one of the reasons why I wanted to homeschool (beside our disabilities and ever-changing lifestyle. Thank you, military). It just made sense for us. So for the last thirteen years, it has been kind of slow. Living our lives one day at a time, never rushing to the next moment. Why rush it? Life will change your plan anyway, and if life doesn’t, don’t worry; the military will.
Don’t get me wrong, I do have plans. We have to! We are trained to, as both active-duty, veterans and military dependents. Have a plan, a backup plan, and a backup plan for the backup plan. I have plans for everything. Vacations, budget, our dream home, high school, and college. Lists, spreadsheets, sticky notes, apps, and SO many reminders.
But I don’t have a plan for this.
I don’t have a plan for our kids growing up. My boys are young men, soon to be young adults. I just realized that today. It clicked as I watched and listened to my husband have another “life lesson” conversation with our oldest son. After it ended, he hugged my son. This boy was looking my husband almost in the eye, and he’s thirteen.
When did that happen?
They are going into 6-7th grade and 7-8th grade this next year, and soon after that will come high school, college, marriage, and perhaps kids of their own. I know that’s not how quickly it will go, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t feel like that.
I am not prepared.
I hear so many conversations floating in the air within the walls of my home. When they make it to my ear, I find myself needing to catch my breath. My children slip so easily into talk of the future.
“When I move out…”
“When I get my car…”
“When I have my own home…”
I want to sing/scream the chorus from “You’re Gonna Miss This” by Trace Adkins.
You’re gonna miss this. You’re gonna want this back. You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast. These are some good times. So take a good look around. You may not know it now. But you’re gonna miss this.
My apologies if I either got the song stuck in your head or made you cry. I can’t listen to that song without getting teary every single dang time. But it’s true, isn’t it? They are going to miss this time. I know I will.
So quickly, my husband and I transitioned our parenting style over the last couple of years into needing to teach life lessons. I can’t even tell you when we made that transition. We talk about life lessons like purchasing their first vehicles and keeping those cars on the road.
Our youngest has constant big picture thoughts and ideas about careers and college, planning a life beyond his high school years. He’s only eleven, and he is our old soul. But we both know that he has big goals and dreams for himself. At the same time, my husband and I are teaching our oldest son life skills and about being an adult while also preparing to make a space in our home for him to live independently, just in case. #disability
And all of this, this future that seems so far away, is happening now or will happen in the very near, not so distant future.
You see, my friends are already hitting those milestones all around me, and probably all around you, too. One of my amazing friends just sent her oldest off to college across the country. It hit all of the emotions. Another friend graduated her oldest son this past summer, and I helped her at his wedding just two weeks later. I found myself in tears throughout all of these milestones for both of these women. These weren’t just their children’s milestones. They were my friend’s milestones, and they were my milestones (or at least, they were going to be).
Why did we teach them to walk when we just knew they’d eventually walk out into the world?
I found myself saying and thinking about our jobs as parents, which is to grow them. Our job is to teach all of those small and big lessons so that they can go out into the world to forge their paths. But it doesn’t mean it isn’t hard to see them grow.
But I’m not ready.
I’m proud of who they already are: hard-working, respectful, kind, and loving. But I’m terrified about the next step.
I am going to take it one day at a time. Because I know I can’t slow it down.