Children Grow and Go: As It Should Be

I felt like my children would never grow up, and I was okay with that. But I knew they would do just that. From the moment you look at that tiny, perfect person in your exhausted arms, you are never the same person. You become a mom, and that is a powerful love no one can describe fully or prepare you to understand. Instantly you love this little person so much that you would do anything for them and to keep them safe with you forever.

From ages 0-2 years, they were utterly dependent on me for everything. Being a mom of young children is a 24 hour round the clock job. But it was a job I loved. Motherhood makes meaning. There is nothing sweeter than first giggles, first steps, and first words. Playtime spent running around the house, exploring the outdoors, new games and toys were so much fun. Watching your child learn about the world around them for the first time is an amazing and grace-filled experience. So many messes, quick rescues, near misses, and superhuman senses that hone in on precisely what your child is doing when quiet help you preserve your child’s life as they waddle, and try to eat – EVERYTHING in their path. It is hard to focus on a conversation if a young child is in the room as you instinctively watch to keep them safe. Mothers never lose this ability to be ever vigilant of little ones. Snuggly naps are for moms and babies alike – we both need them!

After a long, curious, and energy-zapping day, it is time for baths, jammies, bedtime stories, and cuddles. Many nights, I’d fall asleep with my children in their beds while storybooks were still open to watch them breathe. In wonder, I’d question how God gave me such a perfect little person to care for and love. I’d relish in the cuteness of their warm sleeping bodies dozing and dreaming. The dirty dishes could wait. These tender moments don’t.

The Preschool Years:

The nervous child clutching you as you enter preschool brings the first taste of agony you will feel when leaving your nest for good. You know the preschool teachers well, and you trust them. Yet, when you finally get your child settled in and get back in your car, you cry. It is so hard to let go.

Two short years later:

With a little backpack, crips clothes, and tiny sneakers, you walk your brave little munchkin down the long hall to kindergarten. Again, you know he is in good hands, and he needs this stepping stone to a big kid world. Yet, you peel yourself away and watch them play at a distance. Your heart breaks again. Catching eyes with another mother, you both know exactly how the other is feeling. No one ever wants to let her baby go. And, they are always your babies.

Elementary Years: The Blurr of Being Busy

They grow, laugh, and make friends. They complain about homework and would rather play than attend school altogether. They acquire new words you never heard before and some you don’t care to hear. The become “cool” and aware of fads and sports. At any given moment, you could be baking cookies while a whirlwind of other kids, including your own, come dashing through the house in rough play. Armed with bandages, prayers that no one gets hurt, and juice boxes, you stand at the ready.

Junior High: The Growing Pains

The grow. Preteens get smarter and even try out some sarcasm. Your child and his friends become more competitive in sports, academics, and popularity. You try to help them through these times of growth because moods and worries can change day by day. Someone once told me that middle schools are the awkward “holding tanks” before preteens and young teens are big enough and strong enough for high school. I would have to agree.

High School and Navigating the Teenage Years:

With the innate need for independence, friends slowly make their way to center stage while parents are relocated to the backstage as props, script guides, and clean-up crews when things come crashing down. They start driving, and you fearfully wait for them to return safely home after a night out. You appreciate the young adults they are becoming with new ideas and wisdom, yet fret at how much more “growing up” they need to do. Overwhelming emotions can run high as new jobs, more workloads in school, and more responsibilities and social demands pile. As parents, we are more listeners, guides, and coaches as the teen years begin to end.

The Day We All Anticipated, Planned For and Dread: College

In the days approaching the big jump out of the nest, I found myself very sad. I reflected on the early days, my son’s childhood, and even recent events from the summer before. I remember hi asking me to go mountain biking down an actual mountain. I was terrified. He wanted to do this and needed an adult to accompany him. His father was working, so guess who that adult was? I was in a cold sweat as I watched from a chairlift, young mountain bikers maneuver the challenging terrain below. I again realized I would do anything for my child. Including this!

Leaving the Nest: An Exciting and Sad Reality

As we approached the family car to say our last goodbyes, I felt myself feeling that same level of excitement and fear. My son was off to newer and better things; I was a bag of emotions. The moment of letting go that I dreaded his entire life arrived. I was happy for him but selfishly wanted to cling to my baby. He was ready to leave. I did not want him to go – most of the time. When the moment arrived, my heart broke. You can feel things so deeply that you become numb. Like grief, you know the well of tears will burst soon, but you’re just trying to hold it all together and be strong enough to “not make a scene.” The long drive home it occurred to me that I will always be his mom. Though I may not be as needed, I will always be there for him. Life will always have new excitement and challenges. I’m just a phone call and midnight flight away. Sigh.

~Amanda Allison, M.Ed.

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