Don’t Look Back

Outside the kids tossed the basketball around. Between the bouncing and giggles, I kept hearing a man’s voice. I stopped my work, trying to figure out whether someone had dropped by. More giggles and squeals. There. That man’s voice again. And then it hit me. That voice, so odd and unfamiliar, was coming from my son.

We’re in transition. Play-doh has dried up in its rainbow bins. Crayons wait longingly to inspire their next rainbow or wicked creature. Pooh Bear is gone. He took the Playmobil and picture books with him. Bubble baths and bedtime snuggles have been replaced with showers and a kiss goodnight.

mom in the muddle pirate

It’s officially packed away…and it did break my heart a little.

Doors are closed now. And locked. Mirrors get used, not to mention skin care products and brushes. My brush and hair and skin care products are community now. I could share shoes with my son if I wanted—I don’t.

We have serious conversations about the agony happening in the world and the safety of home. We—I—have suffered through sex talks. I hear the “But I thought…” and “This is what Suzy said…” comments and will myself not to convulse at the words and ideas being thrown my way.

Bathroom graffiti is pondered. “You’d think they could at least spell it right.” As an editor, I agree that the spelling situation in society has hit quite a low. But maybe slang words for female body parts below the belt aren’t words we should care so much about spelling properly?

I hear dirty jokes that make me want to gouge my eyes out, but under no circumstances will I flinch. I just get punched in the arm then anyway because of some stupid middle school game I don’t know the rules to.

Bob the Builder and Strawberry Shortcake character names escape us when we used to know them all by heart. Now I’m asked character names in the shows I watch, then wonder why my child is sitting next to me and when this happened.

My kids aren’t babies anymore. Despite the eye-opening time we’re having here, I’m OK with that. I like not having to cover my mouth if a bad word slips out. I know my kids won’t repeat it. I like the conversations we have about how unjust the world is. I like trying in the smallest ways to help shape their points of view. And most of all, I’m thrilled beyond belief that my kids come to me with the things they hear, horrifying as they sometimes seem to me, and don’t at all seem intimidated to talk to me about them.

I don’t look back at what we’ve been through and long for those days. Bottles and naps and tantrums seem so long ago. I think I like where we’re headed. Sure, I know we’re in for some rough times—my kids are preparing me for that. But I’m finding the rainbow in what we build each day.

It’s hard. Some days I think I may not survive big kid problems and this evolution. But every day, I love seeing the people my kids are becoming. Through the angst, they surprise me with their sarcasm and wit, their intelligence, their insight, and sometimes the fact that somewhere along the way, they actually listened to what I’ve been teaching them.

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35 Comments

Filed under Family

35 responses to “Don’t Look Back

  1. Lovely post. Sounds like you have a great relationship with your kids.

  2. Watching our kids grow and develop into their own person is one of the joys of parenthood. We come to realize they’re not simply an extension of us, but that they have their own beliefs and ideas. This can lead to some great conversations, as you point out. I love having teenage sons. But the older they get, the more melancholy I get for their younger years. I wish I could go back in time for just a day to re-experience them young. But I’m sure that’s only natural. It’s probably what grandkids are for. 😉

    • I just rarely look back at an age and think, I miss that. There are always new surprises. I guess right now I am too tired to feel that! But maybe in a few years as one gets into high school. One day, though, maybe I’d take that. A GOOD one day!

      • My oldest is almost done his senior year and will be away at college in the fall, so that feeling of wanting to time travel for a day comes to me more often now. 🙂

  3. Beautiful thoughts minggled with with the bitter-sweetness we mothers face. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Lovely post, Karen. I want to have these simple, happy moments with my kids when they are older. Yes, even getting punched in the arm is one of those 🙂 I am already living through that!

  5. So much truth! It’s hard and scary and exciting and just when I think I miss the Thomas the train days, something new happens that makes me thankful for the growing up phase.

  6. Aw, Karen, I share your sentiment. Your kids are super fortunate to have you. We too are (still) in the process of purging things from the house that the kids have outgrown. I find myself wanting to hoard a few of the little ones for sentimental reasons, then…nah. It goes into the box. Will I regret it? I think not. (I hope not.) Ugh. And the physical changes; just wait until your daughter begins them.

    Like you, I love watching — and being a part of — the process of emerging adults-to-be. It’s even better since we are together for more stretches every day. I feel overwhelmed with time slippage as much as the joy of getting to experience all the crazy things kids enjoy, from their unique and innocent perspective. Bittersweet is the word that comes to mind. Life repeats in a different age, not much different than before, the wheel spins round and round (did my Mom say that?)

    I hope you’re well, Karen! I’ve missed your posts.

    • Thanks, Shannon. It’s an interesting phase for sure but one I remember well. I definitely miss blogging but have been busy with work and also find it hard to find that balance of what I can share and what I can’t. I can’t make these tweens madder at me than they already are some days! 😉

      • Which is why I mostly post about ‘dirt’ with a little ‘kids’ mixed in! I am also struggling with that work/life balance.

  7. It is cool when something we said (we were sure they didn’t hear) comes back around isn’t it?? Then we think “OMG! They DID hear me!” LOL! My daughter is almost 28 and even though she isn’t married with her own kids yet, has quite a bit of influence on a 15 year old young lady who is her boyfriend’s niece. I hear the advice she shares and the things she tells her and it makes me feel good. I also tease her a bit about it and I get the proverbial… “yeah, yeah, shut up mom!” he he! They do have to grow up sometime *sigh* but that don’t mean we gotta like it, eh? 😉

  8. Great post. My guys are still little and it’s nice to hear that maybe they are actually listening. 🙂

  9. domesticdutycalls

    Thank you for sharing. I was actually just talking with someone about this today. My oldest daughter is now in bras and shaving. I don’t know from one day to the next if she’s going to be happy, sad or angry. But, I know for sure she is a great kid and we are going to stick with her, and our other children through it all. I certainly miss that baby smell and being able to heal hurts with a simple kiss to the boo boo but I also love the conversations I have with my kids. I have truly been blessed as it sounds like you have too!

  10. Hi there! Long time no see. Hope all is well. Sounds like you’re in the same place I am. It’s weird isn’t it? The babies are getting big, but they’re still babies. Only not really… It’s quite a transition for all of us. But you’re right, it is good. Different, but good. 🙂

    • Hey, lady! I see you all over the place. You’re doing quite well! Yes, different, but good. Only some days, I don’t know about good. Some days, quite the opposite. Some days, kind of weird actually. Makes the good ones even better, I guess. 😉

      • I’m with you. And yeah, I’m literally all over the place… on the fields, at the schools, lost in the laundry room. And when I catch my breath, I sit at my computer and stress out writing for I’m not sure why. I need an end game. On the plus side, even though my middle schooler doesn’t really talk to me much, he’s still awesome with the hugs. That had better not change. Okay, so yeah, this comment was also all over the place. Ha.

  11. My eldest turned 13 recently, which puts me at the very begging of what sounds to be your middle and….you just summed up my own emotions, perfectly! Thank you! Very well written.

  12. Its funny I have been wonderng were the time has gone and if I will enjoy the “big kid” phase as much as I loved the “little kid” Thanks for making me see there are still fun times ahead.

  13. Reblogged this on chroniclesofmoi and commented:
    loved this read —

  14. Oh, I’m happy for you. I hope I have as much grace when my children are in middle school. And I hope they talk to me, too.

  15. skrzypela1

    Dzieci to najwiekszy skarb ! Sama mam 3 dzieci w tym dwoje juz doroslych 🙂 bywalo ciezko ale usmich i wdziecznosc dzieci jest najwieksza nagroda.
    Pozdrawiam wszystkich cieplo 🙂
    uposledzona.blogujaca.pl na tym blogu poruszam problemy ludzi uposledzonych. Zapraszam 🙂

  16. sheblogslife22

    This hit home for me terribly! My son’s first year of middle school is coming to an end, and he can actually share my shoes! He “borrows” my skin care products, and I stare at him in awe as I watch him do chores 😦 . My daughter is not far behind him. The days of pull-ups and soppy cups are long gone. Thanks for sharing this!

  17. yep…my best friend’s middle daughter turns 18 in july…she was 4 when I met her mother…where did those 14yr go???

  18. Cindy

    My youngest of four graduates this week. Every time I get that tear welling up in my eye I just praise the Lord for all His blessings, fix my thoughts on the future and try to gracefully embrace, and gratefully accept, this impending “promotion” to empty nester.

  19. I loved your post–it made me cry. My children, too, are quickly growing up. Two now in high school (older one already deciding on colleges) and one in middle school. I also love seeing the people my kids are becoming, but I realized this past weekend, how much I will miss them as they move onward. My soon-to-be sixth grader and her friend asked me if they could go on a jumping castle that we’d walked by near a beach. At first, I was surprised they had asked because there were much younger children bouncing on it and they usually like to do what the “big kids” are doing, but I told them of course they could go on it. As I watched them jump around, laughing hysterically, another mother with much younger children turned to me and said, “Do you know how much longer this will be set up? I can’t wait to get out of here.” I couldn’t help but answer her honestly. “Really?” I said. “I’m just so happy that I still have a child young enough who wants to go on this.” I laughed at being so frank, so introduced myself to her to make amends. It goes by really fast, I wanted to tell her, but didn’t know her well enough to say it. Really cherish these little moments, I wanted to say, too, but didn’t. But maybe she understood because she didn’t leave and just stood there watching the kids bounce like I did until the guy running the castle had to kick us all off!:)

  20. Your attitude is perfect. It is not about the loss of childhood, but rather about the adventure of what is around the corner. I remember that stage well with my son. He is now 19. I think this part of watching him become an adult is incredible. What an honor to be a part of this process.

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