I remember when my first baby was born, as blurry as my memory is now, it still doesn’t feel like that long ago that I was beginning my journey as a parent.
Everyone always told me how fast they grow up, and that once they hit high school it goes even faster. I now have a teenager and can confirm – it’s very true! My beautiful little baby has now hit teenagehood and I can feel and see the energy and relationship shift happening right before my eyes.
The Thing Is… There are so many milestones in parenting and you never know when one of them will end. Like the last time you breastfeed, the last nappy change, the last spoon feed or the octopus climb into your bed in the middle of the night or early morning just for a cuddle. These moments don’t last forever, even though sometimes they feel like they will.
Raising children through the different ages and stages is a challenge, but letting go is just as hard. You go into parenting thinking that 18 – 20 years sounds like a very long time. Life is just so busy that we rarely even stop to think what the end of those days look like. We’ve learned how to parent a child who needs us to care for and protect them, but working out this “letting go” part – that’s a different story.
I’ve done the sums and if my eldest leaves home at the end of year 12, I literally have less than 260 weekends left with him. That is, if he even wants to hang out with us over the next few years! We will be competing with his social life, and before we know it, a part time job. It’s so tempting to want to bonsai them and keep them small forever, but we are raising adults.
There is so much to do emotionally, physically, socially, spiritually and mentally to prepare them for leaving the nest that we can sometimes forget to do the same for ourselves. The time is now for me to ensure that I have enough in my life to keep me occupied when they do leave home, so that I don’t feel the hit so hard when they do “fly the nest”.
The chaos, laughter and complete madness I encounter on a daily basis will one day be filled with silence and solitude. Part of that excites me, but part of it motivates me to ensure we have the best 260 weekends we can, while we can. Parenting is by far the most amazing experience of my life that at times leaves me pulling my hair out, worrying myself sick, rolling my eyes, scrunching or blocking my nose, or laughing my heart out.
But one thing is certain – it’s never enough time. There are so many things that fill our lives and distract us from what really matters. I am determined to cull as many of these as possible, so that we can make the final 260 weekends as memorable as possible.
So whatever stage you are at in your parenting or grandparenting journey – Soak it all in! Because one day all of the crazy days filled with drop offs, sports, discos, movie nights, snuggles, sleepovers, meal times and the joys of Christmas and Easter mornings will be a memory. Your day to day parenting will come to an end.
Happy 13th birthday to my big boy Jordan, you are so loved and growing into such a kind and caring young man. We are so proud of you! If anyone has any tips on raising teenagers, I am all ears.