I have been very reflective lately over my children. I am lost in thought about how quickly they are growing up, how fast time is flying by, and trying so desperately to hold on to the last moments I have with all of them as their innocence gives slowly but surely to maturity.
I see my oldest son trying to gain his independence and struggling with who he is and what he wants to become though he himself has no idea. I see him trying to figure out who his friends are and pulling away from us ever so slightly, but enough to sting, as I watch him grow. I notice how his voice has definitely changed, the features of his face and shoulders broadened as he stands eye to eye with me now. Watching him try to navigate his way while still trying to hold onto my relationship with him is SO bittersweet. It puts a lump in my throat that refuses to recede and causes me to turn my eyes to my daughter whom I realize, suddenly, has become a young lady. Her innocence and naiveté is a welcomed joy to me and a wonder as she is so tall and beautiful. She is definitely growing up but is still content with such little things–especially the need for our attention. We are still the center of her world which not only makes me happy but causes me to take notice that we must cherish this moment in our relationship while it lasts. And then there is my youngest. The baby. The one that I am incredibly grateful for the ability to still lift him up in my arms and cradle. I am grateful for his tiny hands, baby feet, chubby cheeks, and that he still loves to cuddle with me at night before he drifts off to sleep. The irony of the juxtaposition of the ages between my eldest and my youngest make me understand one child’s need to separate himself from us while desperately holding on to the last moments I have with the other.
I feel like God has given me this strange gift to be able to pick up on these surreal moments in my life of truly living in the moment, and yet, it doesn’t feel like a gift at all. It is more like torture as I feel someone chipping away at my heart slowly, piece by piece until one day I, no, WE are left alone. I love them all so much. I do not want them to go away. I do not want our lives to change. I do not want them to grow up. I want to freeze time and keep us in the this happy, bustling household hearing their fighting and laughter and watching them peacefully sleep and yet I know, that a life frozen in time can never be. I know that I must learn to let go, slowly but surely, piece by piece until one day, hopefully, they can all be on their own.
When you are pregnant and preparing for parenthood, all everyone ever talks about is the pregnancy and how tired you’ll be from taking care of a baby. All you hear is how cute they are, and about stinky diapers, how sweet their hands and feet are and their coos and smiles. Nobody ever told me that parenting was going to bring me to tears. Nobody ever told me that I would watch my children grow and miss them before they even thought of having the opportunity to leave. Nobody ever told me that the hardest thing I would do as a parent would be to struggle with how to keep my child in my life while learning to let go at the same time. I need strength, knowledge, and wisdom these days. I need my husband’s shoulder to cry on and hand to hold. I need to know that no matter where the days take us we will all get through this life together.
Our children—they are our lives. Our hopes and dreams—they belong to our children. Our lives as parents—they are not our own.
Nobody ever told me.