Spring is always the craziest season in our household – surpassing even Christmas in some ways. Not only do 5 out of 7 kids in the family have birthdays falling between early March and mid-May, but so do most of my kids friends. I have done the math (and know from experience) – the Canadian summer long weekends are to blame for this spring baby boom. Add in Easter, March break, my own birthday, some crazy work hours and this year, for the first time, a tropical vacation, and it seemed like the spring was just non-stop around here.
It also seemed to cause somewhat of a shift in our household. My baby, my little Monkey turned 8 and Mini Me is now a tween. We are in what seem to be the parenting golden years where the kids still like us and want to be around us, but they are more and more able to do things for themselves. I am milking these years for all they’re worth!
Mini Me, who is now 11 going on 40, is able to hang out with his friends after school and walk himself home afterwards. He can walk his little brother home as well, although I get complaints that the walking home conversation is less than stellar. He can get his own snacks and get himself off to bed without complaint and he is willing to stay home alone while I take Monkey to his dance classes Monday night. Now if only he would bathe without threats of eternal grounding, but I am told that showering willingly comes with the discovery of their sex drive, so I am willing to deal with the stench and threats as long as I need to.
Monkey, who has always been my little social butterfly, plays outside with his friends and I don’t have to be watching him every second of the day. He goes to the park with his brother and understands that he has to listen and behave if he wants to keep that privilege. He can make his own breakfast on the weekend without waking us up for help and is great company to hang out with. We have sushi dates together and he is fun to take to a restaurant.
And here’s the thing. I am not at all nostalgic for the younger years. In fact, I think that my whole parenting experience has been leading up to them being the ages they are right now. I found the baby and toddler years difficult, frustrating, and incredibly restrictive. Of course I loved them and I loved spending time with them but I craved time alone where there would not be little people hanging off me and crying. I look at friends who have toddlers now and it makes me realize how active and non-stop my boys were when they were little. Not that they weren’t well-behaved. They were actually fantastic kids. But THEY NEVER STOPPED!! Up, down, in, out, climbing, running. No wonder I was always exhausted!
I was talking to a friend recently who joked that she felt like such a bad mother because she was counting the years until all 3 of her kids were out of the house. With one off to university and the other two in their teens, she was looking forward to having the house back, to reconnect with her husband, and enter a new stage in her life.
She got me thinking – it doesn’t make you a bad parent at all. Enjoying your kids for what and who they are, encouraging them to be independent and move towards adulthood, isn’t that our job as parents? Isn’t a parent longing to relive the baby years kind of the equivalent of those popular kids whose lives peaked in high school? I think the same way about my own ageing. If I start wanting to relive the past, then how can I have a happy present or future? My kids are getting older and they are changing, and I am changing along with them. We are growing up together and I plan on enjoying every second of it.