Sunday, March 1, 2015

The revolving door of parenthood.

You know the're going through a revolving door at your local restaurant, shopping plaza or hotel lobby.  You hustle your littles into the all-too-tight space ahead of you and then squeeze in behind them, go a half turn through the door and then lead them out safely on the other side.   It's our job.  That's what we as Moms, Dads, PARENTS, do. 

The other day my boys, ages 6 and 8, and I were traveling through one of these doors when they rushed in ahead of me.  They filed into the section before me and I followed, one compartment behind.  Well, I got out on the other side and they did not...they kept going.  And going.  And going.  They were having the time of their lives just spinning around.  Of course I ushered them back through as soon as their fun became distruptive to others trying to get in, but until then, they carried on without me.  This has become a metaphor for my life with these boys lately. 

I understand that's how it works.  We guide them and steer them - Teach them, enourage them, support them.  Then they get independent and disappear into the revolving door only to come out on the other side unassisted.  With me standing on the outside watching them through the glass but unable to reach them.  I'm just not sure I am fully prepared for this new back seat "supervisory" role that I've inevitably been assigned. 

I love that my boys are growing up, don't get me wrong.  Besides, Nate has always been an old soul anyway...light years ahead of his age in maturity and self reliance.  I (half) joke all the time that Nate has never really needed me.  As a baby, he would crawl to his bedroom door when he was tired and sit outside it until I put him to bed. 

At swimming over the weekend I was chatting with a mom-friend of mine who is still very much in the throes of all things baby and toddler.  As she stepped out of the water with her infant in one hand and her toddler on her heels, she noted that I had been relieved of my "going in the water duties" now that the boys were older and could swim on their own.  I agreed, pointing out it was just one of many new breaks I'd finally earned as a result of their growing up.  I smile on the outside.  But inside I cried a little.

Sure, it's great to send them outside (with very little assistance needed beyond "Mom, where's my hat?" and "Help!  I can't get my boots on over my thick snowpants with my gloves already firmly installed on my hands" - ok, so they don't actually talk like that but you get the point...) but I never quite know where I stand.  When my needed assistance will be replaced with their new found confidence and skill.  Who can guess when my advice will be put out of business with wisdom of their own.

I don't know that I'll ever get used to this ever-changing "normal".  Just when I think I have it down, something changes. I will always beam with pride as new achievements are realized and skills are learned, of course.  But inside, I also realize that the end of my parenting job is one step closer.  That before I know it I may read my last goodnight story or hear my last "MOM!" holler for assistance in the bathroom.  And that makes me sad.

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