Reality of Kids Growing Up July 2011
I usually plan my summers in January. It makes me feel warmer to plan summer camping in the middle of winter. Plus there are a lot more sites available at the state parks in the middle of winter. So I did it again this year, not anticipating the changes that were coming my way this summer.
I just cancelled the 2nd camping trip we had scheduled this summer. We have some issues with our shower falling apart and thought perhaps we should stay home during the 4th of July weekend and deal with it. But then other issues started popping up, which are not uncommon in a family who owns numerous old vehicles. Our 80’s RV needed a new water pump and our street rod is in the midst of repair. This has happened over the years and we’ve had to cancel car show trips because of it.
But I’ve also had to cancel the trips because of my children’s more grown-up schedules. My oldest daughter has a job and is not driving yet, so I’m her chauffer. My youngest will be gone for a week with our church’s youth group to work with migrant farm workers and their families.
When my youngest told me she wanted to go on this mission trip, I was a bit stunned. This was the child who clung to my leg and wouldn’t step five feet away from me when she was little. When we were all home in the house, she would seek me out for a hug to reassure herself her parents were in place. How could she possibly want to leave me now? Suddenly the reality of my children growing up really sunk in. I’m so used to having them around me all summer, I never even factored in them wanting to be somewhere else.
I’m throwing a little temper tantrum in my head that my kids dare grow up and alter my life so much. I think I'm suffering from empty nest syndrome and they are only 13 and 16. But there was a time they were 3 and 6 and I probably felt the same way.
I try to take myself back to the time when they were little as they went through the different stages of their lives and how it was painful for me as we struggled through it together: when they were crying babies who couldn’t tell me what was wrong; as mischievous toddlers who had to constantly be watched; in elementary school as they struggled to learn to read; when they didn’t want me to read them a bedtime story anymore; when they didn’t want to be tucked in anymore; the first time my husband and I realized we could leave them home alone.
During some of those stages I couldn’t wait for them to get over it and others we rejoiced together when they achieved it. I still have those moments with my teens, but now I can see the end of their childhoods. I commiserated with my mom the other night over the imminent end of their childhoods; she knows the pain. I felt like I should apologize to my mother for growing up myself.
It's inevitable I suppose. But this summer the reality of them growing up has felt like a cannon ball in my pool of serenity. So here I am. Left with reality sunk deep into the pool of their childhood. We wish for it to happen, but when it does, it feels like an anchor.