Growing Pains

When my kids were babies, I remember thinking that parenting would be so much easier when they got older. No more waking up to feed them in the night, no more carrying them around, no more deciphering what their cries meant. Of course, now that they’re 17 and almost 21, it has been beaten into my head that parenting is never easy.

As I’ve watched them grow, I’ve seen that their problems have grown with them. It’s now a matter of navigating life’s disappointments and heartaches with my daughter. It’s standing back and allowing her the freedom to make her own decisions. With my son, it’s helping teach him how to be independent and grow his life skills so that when I’m no longer here, he will be able to safely function as a disabled adult in this world.

The parenting I do now feels more urgent. When they were small, I felt like I had all the time in the world, and now here I am with these grown kids.

Did I do everything I should have? Am I still doing everything I should? What have I missed? What have I screwed up?

It can feel overwhelming.

When we brought our daughter home from the hospital, I remember my then-husband looking over at me in the car and saying, “I can’t believe they let us just leave with this baby.” We we’re so inexperienced and naive.

There were days that, as a full time mom, I thought I’d lose my mind. And then there were moments when I’d get swept up in whatever my littles were learning or doing, and I was filled with amazement and a love like I’ve never known.

My kids have been my biggest teachers. Some of the lessons have been rough. Mostly, though, I’ve learned to forgive myself for the screw-ups. I’ve learned to stand back and watch them both fail and succeed. I’ve done my best to assure them I’m in their corner, and they can count on me no matter what. It’s been some of the toughest work I’ve ever done and will continue to do.

And I can say with absolute certainty it’s been worth every tear, doubt, smile, and hug along the way.

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