As high school graduation nears, I’ve seen a number of “what I won’t miss” and “what I will miss” posts, reflections on the looming empty nest and what life will feel like without the familiar sounds, smells, and crap underfoot that are associated with teenagers. Some real heartache is in those words–along with the anticipation of lowered grocery bills, more free time, bent or broken rules around the house that applied to kids only, less late-night worry, and so on.
Those days are far behind me now. I just realized that my youngest will have graduated from high school ten years ago! Ten years? How can that be?
In those ten years, I’ve written about what it felt like to have my kids leave one at a time, and co-edited an anthology on the same topic.
Also in those ten years, I have become a grandmother. Being around these precious little ones reminds me of the things I miss about having young children. There are plenty of things I don’t miss–and that would be a longer list, probably. But today I’m feeling just a little sentimental. . .
So here is a short list of what I miss about being a young mom with young kids:
1) Being the only one who can make it better with a kiss
2) When my grilled cheese, or french toast, or pancakes set the standard
3) Reading just one more story at bedtime, and saying “Sleep tight” before turning out the light
4) Using my hand to feel a forehead
5) Brushing and braiding my daughter’s hair
6) Being the best at taking care of tangles, splinters, and that wiggly tooth
7) Teaching a new skill to a willing pupil: riding a bike, blowing bubbles, jumping rope, reading, tying shoes
8) Being the one to ask when they wanted to know something, and knowing the answers most of the time
9) Special time together, just one on one, that usually included ice cream
10) Being able to tell what was wrong, what made them sad, and knowing how to make them smile again
11) Seeing things for the first time through their eyes: the zoo, the theater, Disneyland, the Marx brothers
12) Writing silly notes to tuck in a lunch bag
13) Having songs for everything, including “It’s a small world after all” when going through the scary car wash
14) Sharing the giddy anticipation of birthdays, Christmas, and Halloween every year, knowing the right gifts to give and how to put together that costume in time for the big night
I wrote this about the years leading up to the time when my kids all left home:
Maybe it does go by quickly, and it can be harder than anyone thinks, but the way I see it, letting children grow up and go is part of the sequence of events that starts the first time they reach for that shiny object, just beyond their grasp.
I hope those of you with graduating seniors have a smooth transition. Didn’t it all go by too quickly?