Ed. Note: This is the first in a three-column Parenting series on the Tiki Tiki this week. Click here to learn more about upcoming posts.
I don’t know if you know this about me, but I have four children. Well, you can’t really call any of them children any more. Amy is 27, Adam is 24, Lucy is 17 and Jonathan is 14.
Offspring? Spawn? No, children is still the correct word. But it’s complicated.
I have been at this parenting thing for the past 27 years. Not to say that I actually have to parent the two older ones. I life to refer to myself as their Life Coach, but that’s not important right now.
Jonathan, my youngest, was born when Amy was in the 7th grade. Adam was in 4th. Lucy was two and a half and still in diapers.
My days were a blur of carpools and play-dates and sleepovers and sleepless nights.
There were toys, it seemed, everywhere in our tiny condo. I didn’t own anything that didn’t have spit-up on the shoulder, which really didn’t matter much, because I never went to many places that required dressing up.
Both Lucy and Jonathan were rock-me-to-sleep types, so our bedtime routine included a lot of Rocker Time. So I learned to sleep sitting up.
But time, of course, is relentless and all four of my kids were growing and changing. The thing that I have always loved about having these four people around is that they’ve always been in such different places. For perspective: Jonathan started Kindergarten at the same time that Amy started college. (I know. Shut up.)
I did the math and realized that I have had a teenager in the house continuously since 1996 (except for 32 days in 2006 between Adam’s 20th birthday and Lucy’s 13th, but that’s not important right now, either).
My husband and I have warmed countless seats at football games and dance recitals. We have applauded all four of our theater geeks on stage at various times and in various venues. We have painted dozens of sets and I have sewn dozens of costumes.
Our home has always been filled with their friends. I’m delighted to report that even with my son gone, his friends still feel enough at home here that when they’re in town they’ll arrange to stay with us.
I have homeschooled Lucy and Jonathan for the past 8 years. This year both of them applied and were accepted to the Orange County High School of the Arts (OCHSA – pronounced “OH-SHA”). Think Fame but without the drugs and dancing on cars. =D
Lucy is a senior and Jonathan is a freshman. They are delighted with their amazing new school environment in which they get to mine their talents. They have teachers and lockers and bell schedules and homework. I’m proud of the job I’ve done raising them. They’re good people.
But, this new phase of their lives has created a seismic shift in our home and particularly in my life.
Do I miss diapers and carrying Cheerios in my purse at all times? Of course not.
Do I miss tantrums and “she’s touching me” arguments. Obviously not.
Do I miss making lesson plans and organizing their activities. No. I’m over that, too.
But as I’m writing this, the memories of all those things are so vivid. I remember taking a thousand pictures of Amy on her first day of Kindergarten. (<–This was back in the days of film, too!)
I remember holding my breath as Eric let go of the handlebars and Adam was finally able to maneuver his bike on his own.
I remember Lucy tenaciously deciding she was going to learn how to jump rope. She was 4 and I was watching her achieve this amazing feat as I balanced 2 year old Jonathan on my hip.
Now I’m on the other side of those Wonder Years. I’ve been spending a lot of my time recently helping Lucy fill out college applications. Wait! She just mastered jump-roping like 5 minutes ago!
To all of you young mothers out there, I have this to say: Enjoy your time with your children right now. It all goes by so quickly.
I know. You’ve heard this before. Every grandmother you meet tells you the same thing. And when you’re in the middle of sleepless nights and picking up the same toys left in the same places day in and day out, you may be questioning their sanity. Quickly? You think. No way.
Let me just reassure you, from someone who has done it and is now on the other side. Yes, it all goes by so quickly. But it’s all worth it.
Just don’t blink.