Today is my baby’s 13th birthday. I now have two teenagers in the house and the countdown towards the empty nest is officially on. Once upon a time, I had babies. They were cuddly, and smelled so sweet (at least they did right after their baths) and they never wanted to sit still. No longer do I have little boys cuddling up to me, or giggling as they chase the doggie or throwing something up so high in the house that my short self is forced to grab the stepladder and try to get it down, all the while preaching the mantra, “You know you are not supposed to throw in the house”. The fun trips to parks and playgrounds are long over and the thrill of watching the doughnuts being made at Krispy Kreme has been replaced by the request to hit the drive through and can they have some gulp, coffee?
Now I have sons who are tall enough that I ask them, “Can you reach that for me?” instead of getting the stepladder and there are these huge shoes thrown around. In fact the fairy tale I keep thinking of is “Jack and the Beanstalk”. They are the beanstalks and perhaps a little Jack might help me with all these transitions. I learned to drive at 14 and I look at my older son and think, “No way! You’re still my baby.” They are perfectly content to sit still, if an Xbox is involved. They grab pizza, laugh and share jokes with me, and want to discuss world events and tragedies with a seriousness that startles me at times. We share music and I catch them rolling their eyes at me, luckily not as often as I did at my own parents, and I remember so well the arrogance of youth. I want to caution them, hold them tight, and yet I want to let them go and watch them glory in their independence.
At various times of their lives, I’ve heard “oh, that’s my favorite age” from other moms. I can honestly say that every age has been my favorite. I find the changes, the thrills, the agonies constantly make me feel more alive, and the love for my children is this ever expanding entity I never completely comprehended. And one day, I hope to take their children to Krispy Kreme to watch the doughnuts being made, and I think I’ll let my grandchildren throw things in my house, just for the joy of it.
How do you handle your children growing up? Is it fun? Bittersweet? Exciting or exhausting? Maybe it's all of the above?