Thursday, April 17, 2014

My Elementary Days Are Over (Almost)

I’m almost finished my last year as a parent of an elementary school student. There was a time when I thought it would never end – back when I was knee deep in book reports and dioramas. My days of remembering to sign the planner, pack the lunch, or locate the library book are nearly over. Sigh.

I’ve longed for this day, but now that it is upon me, I am misty. Somehow the six years of elementary school crawl by, but the six years of middle and high school are gone in a flash. I’m not sure what the science is that makes time work this way, but I’ve heard it from other parents so I know it is real.

I don’t have much say anymore in what they wear or what they eat or even what they do. Mostly my job is to drive them where they want to go. My words of encouragement or reminders are met with eye rolls and groans. I’ve learned that these actions are rote responses and don’t carry the meaning I supposed upon them initially when the teen years began. Now I know they simply mean, “Got it, Mom.” I don’t take offense at their insensitivity. Much.

After all, I was teenager once. I took my mother for granted. It’s a right of passage. I remember compulsively disliking my parents, not because I disliked them, but because I couldn’t help myself. It’s part of the growing up process. Our children must separate themselves from us. If they continued to adore us as they do when they are very young, they’d never leave. And we want them to leave. Eventually.

A dear friend has a little girl who is only 8 years old. She loves to come to visit and pet my horses and chase my chickens and adore my kitty cats. Yesterday, after a very long tough day, I received a text message from my friend with a picture of the drawing her daughter had done at school. It had a caption that read, “Going to see Ms Cara makes me feel excited because she has horses and has a fun house and I like spending time with her.” I wanted to hold it up for my own children to see and say, “See! Some children love spending time with me!”

So, maybe the trick is to borrow other people’s kids when you’re feeling underappreciated. The other trick is to remember not to take your own kids reactions personally.

Maybe they no longer want to spend time with me, that’s okay because I’m finding more time to spend with myself. I’ve picked up a few new hobbies and put more time into the ones I have. I’m investing in me more because pretty soon those kids are gonna up and leave, as they should. I’ll be stuck with me and that guy I married. Which is how this whole mess started. I’m looking forward to those days, they are just on the horizon.  

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