Sunday, February 19, 2017

Shifting Sands Of Parenthood

I've been thinking about kids a lot lately. No, not having more kids, those days are certainly behind us, but more about the "kid years." As Ben approaches the end of his senior year of high school, the prospect of an empty nest is staring Donna and I in the face. Within the next seven months, we will have two empty bedrooms (a sad thing), no one to wake up for school every morning (a weird thing) and two cars that we can reclaim as our own (a good thing).

But I'm not sure I'm 100% ready for it yet.

If you had talked to me 15 years ago, when they were 6 and 3, I would have laughed in your face if you told me I'd be saying that today. There were weeks where the prospect of having even ONE child IN high school seemed an eternity away. Those days where it seemed all I did was work, go to the park with the kids, eat dinner, read bedtime stories, fall into bed and then repeat it in the morning.

And while I was plenty engaged at the moment, especially since, thank God, cell phones weren't a thing yet, I still wish I'd paid more attention. By that I mean I wish I''d realized how fleeting those moments were - those moments of tiny bodies, precious moments, dinners-with-daddy, living room dance parties, bath times, and all the rest. Sometimes you are so in the moment that you can't see the forest for the trees. All you see is what is next on the to do list.

  • Do the dishes.
  • Change the diaper
  • Get their jammies on
  • Pick up toys
And, as I said, I was fully engaged in my kids' lives - as much as any full time working parent can be,  I guess. Yet, I have second thoughts about
  • Did I spend enough time playing with them? 
  • Did I encourage them enough in sports and school?
  • Did I listen when they needed me to the most?
  • Did I savor those moments where they fell asleep in my arms?
I'm guessing I did, but I don't think you ever stop second guessing yourself as a parent. There are no rule books about how to do it right, we're left to the freestyle dance of parenthood when all we really want are the specific dance steps. 

These past two years when we've had just Ben around have been bittersweet. They've allowed us to focus our attention and energy on making sure he is launched into college with all the tools and support he needs. And to his credit, he has matured ten fold since the start of his junior year - swimming and having a job had a lot to do with that - so I think he's as ready as he needs to be. 

But it's also been tough because not only do I miss having Sarah around, I realize how deafeningly quiet it's going to be around here in a few months. It will be an interesting transition for Donna and I as well. We've been re-discovering our own relationship these past two years, but the rattle and hum that comes with getting our last child into adulthood and out on his own is about to cease. 

And I'm not sure how I feel about that. 

Blogging off...

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