Oh sure, my kids will always be my “babies”, but they have not been literal babies for a long time. They have been out of diapers for years. They are masters at drinking without the use of a bottle or sippy cup. At night, I don’t even think about keeping an ear trained for the sound of someone crying. I have reached the horizon I silently longed for in those early, sleep-deprived and hair-pullingly frustrating days.
And I’m afraid I may be missing it.
Now, we don’t deal with diaper blowouts. We deal with realizing we missed Curriculum Night. We aren’t trying to figure out how to wean someone off of a pacifier. We’re trying to figure out how we’re going to run in a 15K and get our daughter to her soccer game on time. There are still challenges at this stage, but they feel almost insignificant somehow. I’d venture to say they feel mundane. It’s that mundanity that sometimes makes it easy to overlook the fact that we’re actually in an oasis of sorts.
Next year, we will be middle school parents. That will bring its own terrors, but for now, we’re in the relatively calm waters of elementary school. My daughter still wants to spend time with me, and not because she needs me to feed her. My son voluntarily grabs my hand and holds it whenever we’re walking together (even when we’re not crossing a street!). We can tell each of them to get off their tablet or phone and get minimal pushback. They think we’re smart and worthy of respect. They come to us when things hurt, trusting us to be able to solve whatever the problem is.
Basically, this feels like the sweet spot.
Although we’ve started saving for college, full-on college preparation is a few years off. As are school dances and driving lessons. Hearing all the trials my friends who are parents of teens are enduring, I know that once we leave this oasis, there is a high probability of storms ahead. Even if the storms turn out to be more like spring rains than a Category 5 hurricane, I know the days of coming to us with all of their problems and openly holding our hands will not last forever.
So before these days end, I have to try to plug into this time replete with Thursday folders and Roblox. This is a season when I actually wouldn’t bristle if a more experienced parent said, “Enjoy these years.” Then again, I could be less irritable because I’m actually getting sleep at night.