Shift Happens

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Last month, Emma and Harper started their junior and seventh grade years, respectively. The morning of the first day of school was rushed, emotional but uneventful. In the chaos, I didn't have time to snap a picture. They were dressed in outfits that they painstakingly took forever to choose. I sent them off to school, and hoped for the best on their first days.

It wasn't until they came home later in the day that I was finally able to get a picture. As they stood and posed ever so willingly, I looked through the viewfinder at these two amazing creatures. My flesh and blood. I gave them life, and now they were standing in front of me, and I was grappling with the task of trying to figure out where the years have gone.

Once you become a parent, you hear all the clichés about how quickly your child will grow. For most of us, we are so deep in the depths of parenthood that it's hard to pay attention to all the things you've heard over and over again through the years starting when you were a child.

But one day, you look up, and I literally mean look up, to your child and notice that she's not so little anymore. She has the face of a young woman. She has long limbs and takes up more space than she ever has before. The realization that she is growing up smacks you in the face.

It's the best thing and the worst thing.

You want them to grow up, but you want them to stay babies.

You want them to be independent, but you want them to need you.

Never has it been more evident to me that the tide is shifting than now. Emma and Harper are becoming more independent as each day passes. Emma's currently learning to drive, and isn't driving the ultimate show of independence? Harper is beginning to spend more time with friends than she has before. After school they walk to get smoothie bowls, tacos, subs, or ice cream. She's babysitting and earning (and spending!) her own money.

I am so proud of the strong young women they are becoming. They are learning to demonstrate grace and composure in trying situations. They fill me with fear and wonder. I alternate between utter terror and overwhelming joy. They say parenting is the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, and it is so true.

Every day I hope I am doing enough. Watching your kids grow up is hard. You walk a fine line between getting involved and letting them figure it out on their own. If you tread too lightly, they think you are indifferent. If you lean in too far, they think you are controlling.

But nothing compares to watching your child approach adulthood. Everything you've instilled in them is beginning to take full effect, and all the skills, character traits, and values are finally coming to fruition. There is nothing better than seeing that happen before your very eyes.

While I know they'll always need me, I do recognize that there are certain things they no longer need from me.

The tide is shifting, and I don't want to be abandoned on the shore.

Watching your kids grow up. It's the best of times. It's the worst of times.

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