Parenting Big Kids

I am stretching and growing, and sometimes I am resisting stretching and growing.  We are being asked to parent differently than we used to, because we have different kids in our house.  They are no longer three and completely dependent; they are in middle and high school, and fighting tooth and nail against dependence.

I used to say, “Here’s your lunch.”  That gave way to, “What would you like for lunch?”  And now I hear, “Hey mom, can I make ______ for lunch?”  It’s weird, and I have so much more food in the house than I used to…and also so much less.

I used to tell them what the right choice was, now I ask, “What do you think is the right choice?”  I am trusting that the 11-14 years of teaching have made their way into these three minds, and praying that when they don’t know they will ask.

I used to worry about naps and children running into the street, now I worry about them riding their bikes to the library alone and what on earth they are seeing on the internet.

I used to send them to their rooms when they were having a fit, to continue the conversation when they’re calm.  Now I find myself digging, digging for what’s really wrong, because they don’t know either.  We’ll find it together.

We’re shifting from telling to asking, from speaking to listening, from doing to letting go.  This shift feels sudden and jolting and something I am not at all prepared for.  And somehow, this shift feels like what we’ve been working towards this past decade and a half – because really, it is.

“It will be so much easier when they’re older!”  It is, and it isn’t.  I can run to the grocery store by myself in the middle of the day, I sleep through the night, they cook for themselves.  But man, the importance of the issues just grows.

And then there are the unexpected blessings of their sense of humor, their taste in music mirroring ours, playing card games instead of Chutes & Ladders, watching non-cartoons together.  The fun we have together grows.

So I will stretch and grow too, being the mom they need in good times and in bad.

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