At 14 and almost 13, my older two children are beginning to “wind down” certain activities and pick up others. Hurtling through their childhoods, I’m beginning to sense that my children are quickly becoming young adults and with that change I have to admit I’ve been feeling a bit wistful. My babies are certainly not babies anymore.
We have begun another soccer season this week and I have always been a proud soccer mom. Of course I pray for rain cancellations, groan every Saturday morning when my alarm goes off, and complain when we eat dinner at 8:00 some nights because someone had soccer practice across town. I do love it though. I love having an excuse to be outside for a few hours every weekend. I love watching my kids have fun, stay healthy, and learn how to be a humble winner, a good loser, and a great teammate. I enjoy cheering them on and supporting them.
My oldest has indicated that this will be her last season as she is going to high school next year and has no interest in playing at that level. My middle daughter may be quick to quit behind her. While I have one more daughter just getting started on the field she is also a dancer and I have a funny feeling she’ll be choosing dance over soccer sooner rather than later. And I have to admit…I’m a bit sad.
So I vowed to complain less this soccer season as this may be one of my last and I started to think about the other parts of parenting that I used to complain about but ultimately missed when it was over. We hear, “you’re going to miss this when it’s over” or “you’ll look back on this and smile” and other annoying cliches from older parents all of the time. But as I’m beginning to identify with those “older” (gasp) parents I have to say, they were right.
Baby Kicks: I was not a happy pregnant person. I never glowed. I never had that energy of the second trimester. I never looked cute. Every milestone of my last pregnancy I celebrated as the “last time” I would deal with it, excited to meet my last baby and be DONE with pregnancy forever. However, I miss the baby kicks. I miss their little reminders to me to please move and give them some space, eat something nourishing, or simply please remember you are pregnant and sit down for a minute. I miss feeling them squish around inside of me relieving any anxiety I may have had about their well-being every time they moved. The ultimate invasion of my personal space was forgiven each and every time they gave me a little nudge thanking me for the cozy place to grow and reminding me how much I loved them.
Midnight Feedings: I barely remember the hazy first days of a newborn’s life and I had three of them. Your life revolves around your new baby’s stomach. Night becomes day, day becomes night, and you’re lucky if you shower and change into a fresh nursing bra and yoga pants every few days. You’re tired, confused, and you may spend some time crying right along with that baby. But…that baby smelled so good. She felt so good snuggled up to my breast. She often stared right into my eyes and I would feel the greatest love for a human being I had ever felt, every single time. At night it was just the two of us awake in the house, sitting in the near dark, depending on each other for strength. And I miss that.
Bath Time: Oh I how dreaded bath night in my house. When my two oldest were young, I used to bathe them together which was messy, loud, and exhausting but at least the entire experience was done in half the time. Eventually they needed their own time in the bathroom and then I added another baby to the mix. I was faced with either bathing them all on the same night making “bath time” last from after dinner until bed OR splitting them up onto alternating nights but that would mean I had to endure the hot wet bathroom every night after dinner. I never ever looked forward to this part of my day. However, bath time is often when I laughed the most with my silly kids. We used our time in the bath to work on language development, colors, animal sounds, counting skills, and our singing. We would sing every Christmas carol we knew or every nursery rhyme we could think of during our time in the bath. My youngest is now showering and while I’m still hanging out in or very close to the bathroom while she’s in there she is pretty much independent. We still take this time to chat and be silly but she almost always insists that I talk to her through the closed shower curtain. “Bath time” for my older two now means a race to beat the other into the shower leaving the loser banging on the door yelling “Hurry UPPPPP!!!” and the winner shouting back, “LEAVE ME ALONE!” every five minutes. As I turn up my television to drown them out I always take a second to remember them crowded into one soapy tub, laughing like loons, enjoying their time together and with me.
The Stroller: The stroller was a necessary evil. When my oldest two were little I even had a double stroller. That thing was incredibly heavy, impossible to open and to close quickly, took up my entire trunk, and made it impossible to maneuver into and around any store or restaurant. I despised it. Whenever possible I would rather use two strollers and unless a place had a cart to load them into, I would insist on someone else accompanying me on all outings to push the second stroller. Just when they both grew out of their strollers I had another baby so I have had either one or two strollers in the back of my car since 2003. Well, until this year. This year I finally took the last stroller out of my trunk and deposited it into my basement. But, of course, I miss the stupid thing. I miss having a place to stash my heavy purse, a discarded sweatshirt, someone’s water bottle, and shopping bags. I miss having a seat for a cranky kid with tired legs. I miss being able to keep my youngest completely safe and under my control in crowds. And I guess I miss having a kid small enough for the stroller. The stroller was the last of the “baby gear”. With it’s exit from our lives there is no more denying the hard truth. My babies are no longer babies.
My Kids: I miss the younger versions of my kids. My youngest, at 6, is a walking, talking, living reminder of what her older sisters used to be like when they were young. My two teenaged girls barely resemble their former selves. In so many ways they amaze me. They are smarter, more talented, and more beautiful every single day. Some days I can see past the acne, braces, and eye rolls and I can glimpse the amazing women they will very soon become and I’m so proud. Other days my heart aches. I miss their innocence. I miss the days when everyone was their friend and new experiences were embraced, not questioned. I miss how much they used to like each other’s company. They would play together for HOURS before an angry word was spoken. Now they are lucky to last ten minutes in each other’s presence before someone says something to upset the other. I miss not worrying about them so much. I worry about everything these days. I worry about mean girls, school violence, their health, their friendships, their grades, their goals, their futures…everything. I miss worrying about the simple things, like whether or not they went to the bathroom before we left the house. I know it’s strange to say I miss my kids when I see them every single day…but I do. And I’m holding my littlest a little tighter every day and I often beg her to please just stay little.
So I guess I should end with some of those annoying parenting cliches because, I’m sorry, sometimes they do ring true.
Enjoy every minute.
You’re going to miss this when it’s gone.