Two of my husband’s children are acting like a**holes. Sure, they’re my kids too and right now I am shifting parental ownership to their father. I am sick of the constant disruptions and their apparent inability to speak civilly to one another. Why can’t they grow up? Also, how did they get to this stage so quickly, hiding in their rooms and fighting over the bathroom and dishes. Stop growing up so fast. What I mean is hurry up and stop growing!
I LOVE my kids deeply and all the time. Do I LIKE them all the time? No. I am not ashamed of this and I have not hidden this truth from my kids. It is real, it is me and it is how our family works. We talk about our feelings toward each other, we respect each other and we always love each other. The love/like description is easy for me to handle. The other feelings I am having now are starting to confuse me. I find myself somewhere between I can’t wait for them to be older and I so wish they were little again.
I love them so much I don’t want them to leave. At the same time, I cannot wait for them to be living their own lives outside of my home. I am sad to see them get older while I am also desperate for them to grow up. I want them to hurry up and stop growing. Let me explain some more…but first a little about where we started.
Our family’s beginning
I married my high school sweetheart when we were 21. I was pregnant with our first child one month shy of our 1st anniversary. It was not as we planned and it was wonderful. Our daughter, born in 2000, turned 21 on March 1st, which is un-frickin-believable. Our first son was born in 2006, he will be 15 on March 16th. Then we had what we call our “oh sh**” moment in 2009. Say what you will, my husband and I shared this sentiment with news of our third pregnancy. We were shocked and eventually happy with the news of our unplanned, bonus baby boy. He was born in 2009 and is officially 11 and a half years old as of Valentine’s Day.
It seems like a lifetime ago when they were young and I was changing diapers or reminding them to pee. I cursed aloud when I stepped on toys, trucks, and legos strewn across the floor. We had stricter schedules and bedtimes, my husband and I could watch tv without children around. Things have changed. Now I am usually the first to go off to bed. I get angry over dishes in rooms, empty snack packages left in the pantry instead of being thrown away. We have little control over their schedules now as they are overrun with team practices and trainings set on someone else’s time.
We have weekly FaceTime chats with the oldest who is 1200 miles away. The movie nights are rarely animated (I still fall asleep to them). We have great discussion and fierce arguments, no longer tantrums of a toddler. I love what we share today and ache for the previous years. I feel conflicted. So happy to have what we have and so sad that what we had is gone.
A Mom to an Adult, a Teen & Preteen
I did not prepare for this stage of motherhood. I admit, the age span between my oldest and youngest brings an interesting aspect and still, I was not prepared. Raising babies, toddlers and school-aged kids was something I seemed aware was coming. The stage of schedules I cannot control, emotions, hormones and preteen/teen drama were not things I thoroughly thought about through my mom lens. I did not prepare for the feelings a mom of older kids has or what it feels like to watch them grow up. How did I miss this?
To be fair, I am a mom in a few stages. I have one closer to college graduation than I’d like to discuss. One in their first year of high school and one ready to start middle school. They grow up fast and while I still worry about them, it is different than before. I have found this space I didn’t prepare for to be confusing. Not necessarily confusing regarding how to parent, I am confused about my emotions. I am changing as their mom and my feelings are clashing internally. I want my kids to hurry up and stop growing.
Grow Up & Stay Young
I am beginning to understand why savoring all these moments is so important. It is true (and I still twitch a bit when I hear this) it goes by so quickly. I find it hard to process the desire for them to grow out of stages without wishing them older too soon. Having one on the cusp of being on her own has brought a new perspective. I have a different approach and angst about mothering her younger brothers.
This hit me as I prepared for my daughter’s 21st birthday and reflected on her visit between semesters this winter. When my daughter returned to school in Washington this past January, I missed her differently than I had before. I missed her company because I not only love her…I genuinely like her.
We sat together and talked about important and unimportant things. It was like having a best friend with me. She is a kickass, fun, interesting, kind and amazing woman, and saying that leaves a lump in my throat. My daughter is the age I was when I married her dad and we started a life on our own. I can’t believe she is already that age. It is exciting and I am sad my role as her mom is changing. I will always be her mom. My mom role in her life is different and we can be friends like never before. These are beautiful things and I am sad my baby girl is a woman, a full adult! Hurry up and stop growing.
Knowing What’s to Come
I feel this way while I wish my boys would grow the f – up and stop acting like teenagers (pre-teens). Then I think about their upcoming birthdays and moments in school and realize how fast they are growing. I also want them to stop. I want to appreciate this stage and who they are. It is a strange place to be, wishing them to do opposite things at the same time.
My oldest son played his first season of high school soccer this fall. He is one quarter of the way through this part of his life. Knowing how fast high school flew for my daughter makes me appreciate this time in his life differently. I recently watched a video of our daughter’s high school orchestra concert orchestra and I cried. I did this because I realized how unlikely I was to attend another one of my kid’s concerts. The oldest no longer plays, the high schooler dropped the viola when we moved and the youngest isn’t interested in music. I remember the dread at seeing a concert on my schedule and I would feel differently today. I know how fast high school will go from my perspective and I am going to hold on to these moments differently than the first time around.
Loving & Liking them Anyway
I am figuring out how to manage these feelings. When my patience is tested, I have found that I am approaching things with greater compassion than before. Don’t get me wrong, I still flip out and become the mom I despise when I get angry. Those times are less frequent and less intense. I do hug them more often and for longer moments. I will peek in on them when they are sleeping, just like when they were babies. My babies are growing up and I can’t wait and I cry at the progress!
I am learning to appreciate and soak in motherhood in ways I never have before. My actions and reactions are more intentional. I haven’t experienced this before. My motherhood journey came quick and early and I was in it before I realized what it truly meant. When my kids were younger (ages 2-12) I was working my ass off. It is difficult to remember moments of my kids’ lives at that time. I was in the throws of work, school and life and trying to survive. I am a different mother to my boys than I was to my daughter, in both good and not so great ways.
Same Mom, Different Experiences
I have always done to my best to be a good mom. I refuse to look back with regret. It is not a useful emotion. I love who we are as a family right now, all the times before made us who we are today. For that, I am grateful. I will be a different mom to each of my kids because I am a different person than I used to be or then I will be tomorrow. I understand why my experience as a child of my parents was different than the experiences of my siblings. We were parented by the same people and they were changing, learning and doing their best. They were different for each of us and like that, my kids will experience me in varying stages of me as a mom.
My feelings have been something I am allowing myself to lean into and try to understand. They have brought an awareness I appreciate. I am working to be intentional about liking my kids more often. They will move on from this stage soon. I know how fast this time will go by and it scares me while simultaneously exciting me. It is cliche to say but “it goes so fast.” I want my babies to hurry up and stop growing!
I will love them big & big, tall & tall, high & high today, tomorrow and forever! (even if they are hard to like sometimes)
It Takes a Village
Like all things I seem to struggle with, I seek out others experiencing similar things for support. I have great friends and squads of women who allow me to vent, cry, celebrate and take space. There are great mom mentors out there to help facilitate difficult times. I recommend the Motherhood Mentor if you are seeking a mom community. There are a lot of communities available, find the one that is right for you. Look for a space and people that lift you up and support you.
If you are experiencing a difficult stage, event, or need some guidance, seek resources. I find articles written by other moms to be helpful when I am struggling to handle incidents with my kiddos. Check out The We Spot blog articles related to motherhood. There are so many great articles ranging from babies to grown children and topics at each stage.
I know what I share is from a place of privilege. I have three healthy, thriving kids who are experiencing trivial life lessons and difficulties. For those experiencing true hardship with loss, illness, and pain, I see you. I understand how insignificant much of this article may seem. It is my truth and perspective with where I am and how I am living and feeling. Take care of you!