We have been parents for almost 14 years. That’s a shocking statement all on its own. I can’t believe that our oldest child is almost 14! Time sure does fly when you’re having fun! Looking back over the years I can’t believe how much our parenting style has changed.
Sure, I knew as the kids got older things would change and we would change, but it seems as though I’ve lost myself. Not so much my personality or the things I enjoy, but I feel as though I’m losing that Mom side of me. I wrote about being a parent of older children is hard and it’s true, but what I didn’t think about is my role in their lives.
I used to be that Mom that everyone hated. You know what I mean, the one that has her stuff together and made the kids things – clothes, cute sewing projects etc. etc. – and made all of the DIY stuff you see on Pinterest – laundry soap, cute Bento box style lunches, the list could go on. Now, I let them make their own lunch. I buy our laundry detergent. I sew very sporadically. Maybe it’s because times have changed and the kids are off being busy, so we’re off being busy, but I miss that stuff.
I’m not saying that I’m failing at parenting because I have decided that my life is too busy to make household cleaners so now I’m purchasing them from the store, or if that’s how you’ve done it all along then you’re not the right kind of parent. It’s just the little things I used to do seem to have vanished with the years. I’m sure some of the stuff I do now will soon vanish into distant memories too, but I feel as though I’m letting my kids down because I don’t do those things any more.
Sure, the Girl likes to pack her own lunch these days and the Boy at times would rather take a thermos with leftovers and that leaves me with more time – you would think – to be doing other things. I don’t know if I’m just suffering from the Summertime Blues and that’s what’s making me think about all of the things I’m not doing, or if it’s the “On this Day” app on Facebook that’s showing all of the super cute things we used to do and that’s having an effect on me, I don’t know, but it’s a feeling I can’t seem to shake.
Parenting isn’t an exact science and I get that. I feel like right now we are to my kids what they need us to be. We have fantastic relationship with both of them and they are both thriving, both socially and academically; so it’s not like we’re failing this parenting thing. Have we made mistakes? ABSOLUTELY! Do we still make mistakes? Um, yes.. we’re only human and I’m sure there’s going to be another list of mistakes along the way before this is all said and done.
I don’t know if the Hubs feels this way about parenting and the kids growing older, it could just be me. We have been a team in this parenting thing since day one. It’s a tough job! I’m glad to have had a side-kick to help me along, because there are days I’d like to quit and just hide in my room until whatever it is passes.
From little babies to a teen & tween, our parenting has evolved to suit their/our families needs. And I think it does; that there’s some ebb and flow to parenting that evolves as time goes on. Sure, we are still willing to give a cuddle or hug if they are having a bad day, I still read a book to the Boy every now and then. Time outs have evolved into grounding or taking electronics away. I’m sure once they start driving (can’t we just keep them little?!?!) we’ll be taking car keys away if they get into trouble.
I feel like there are phases of parenting, which I guess would explain the changes I’m seeing within our parenting style.
Phase one: Baby-child age.
This is the nurturing and teaching them right and wrong phase. Where you show them unconditional love and do all of the little things with them. Whether that means baby wearing and making homemade baby food, or making them a pair of pajamas or clothes for their teddy. Using time out as a form of punishment when they do something wrong. Limited sleep happens in this phase too. From Newborn – toddler who knows how many hours of sleep you’re going to get. Then if you’re lucky you might get a full nights sleep when they are about 5ish.. maybe. We still have a few “I can’t sleep nights” with the Boy at age 9.
Phase 2: Child – tween/early teens age.
You’re basically teaching them independence. I feel like that’s all you’re doing during this stage in their lives. How to get up and ready for school on their own, how to come home and manage their time with their homework. Chores have started. We’ve had to have “the talk” (the birds an the bees) with the Girl – that’s a whole new ball game on it’s own! This stage I feel like we’re setting them up for how to function in this world once they’re adults. It’s not necessarily a fun phase, not gonna sugar coat it. You have hormones to contend with and they feel like they don’t need you any more, but they do.
Phase 3: Teen years
I can’t even begin to imagine what this phase is going to bring. I can’t tell you for sure because we aren’t quite there yet. I think the teen years start once they hit about 15-16. I could be wrong. I could be back next month telling you we’re at the teen years phase. I’m assuming this is where we will really start to see/feel them pull away. Become even more independent. They’ll be driving, maybe even hold a part-time job. They’ll be looking into colleges and planning a future for themselves. This phase will probably be one of the most challenging phases we face. Goodness it’s coming at us fast!
Phase 4: Young Adulthood
I know these days Young Adult is a term used for teens, but I’m talking 18-25ish. Where they’re off in college, or finding themselves. Starting a serious relationship, settling down. That kind of thing. This is where we’ll be figuring out what it’s like to no longer have a child/or both in our home. They’ll be off starting their lives and Hubs and I will be learning how to be just the 2 of us again. This I think will be an interesting and exciting phase for us all.
Phase 5: Adulthood
Now they’ve gone through college, more than likely found a job and have settled down. We could quite possibly even be starting our journey as grandparents. OMG.. I did not just write that! The kids will need us, but on a different level of needing us. And I can’t even guess at what those needs will be once this phase comes.
I’m quite happy about being well into Phase 2 of parenting, but I’m missing Phase 1. I don’t want to go back to Phase 1, trust me…this girl likes her sleep! But I miss the little things. The tucking them into bed – they go on their own now after a quick hug and kiss, or making homemade play dough that they then spend HOURS playing with. That’s a thing of the past.
If you’re still in Phase 1, enjoy it. Enjoy every sleepless second of it, because one day you’ll find yourself in Phase 2 and wish you had just a small slice of Phase 1 again.