By JACQUI L. HERSHBERGER
Our family is finishing up a busy season. Soccer, cross country, marching band, fall play, choralation, church activities—practices, rehearsals, meets, games, get-togethers. Since none of my kids can drive on their own (although we are on our way with one having a permit!), that means my husband and I have been in charge of transporting them. The 10-minute route to and from Dalton? Well, let’s just say I have it fairly memorized.
When my kids were younger, older than me people would tell me, “They grow so fast.” I was blessed to be able to be home when my kids were little, and I saw and experienced many of their “firsts.” I also secretly wished when they were waking me up multiple times at night or having temper tantrums that maybe they would grow a little faster!
Thinking about it, though, things that they can be involved in outside of the home grows alongside their growth. As they get bigger, their sphere also widens. And, as they are involved in other activities, they spend more time with other people and less time with you.
When our kids were little, they didn’t really want to be involved in other things. Flyers about sports and camps from school usually never met my eyes, because they’d be in the trash or crumpled in the bottom of the backpack before they left school. That meant that we had LOTS of time at home together. And, during the pandemic, we were home even more as most things were canceled or closed.
But, as they are getting older, they are changing. There are more local activities besides ball sports available to them, and they want to be with their friends more than their parents. My oldest is in the fall play, as she was last year. I was not there to see her audition, to get her lines for the first time, or any of the other “firsts” she experienced. Unlike sports where there are multiple times for weeks for you to watch your children compete, the plays and musicals have one weekend, after months of practice, for your child to shine, and then it’s over. I bought a ticket for each performance.
Next year, I will have two in high school. Two that might be in a lot of the same things. Two that will be gone from home a lot. That means that we will have some special time with my youngest, who will be at home without older siblings entertaining her.
“One of the worst parts is right at the time she is leaving us more, she is also becoming even more fun to hang out with. She is growing into this awesome human who is using her gifts out in the world…,” says an article my friend posted on Facebook called “She’s 14 and I Already Miss Her.” It talks about these very things—kids growing up and branching out.
I wonder if I would’ve realized as a young mom that my focused time with my kids was shorter—until about 14 instead of 18, maybe I would’ve enjoyed the condensed time with more gratitude? The hugs, the “pick you ups,” the backing up into my lap with a board book, the giggles. And, how can I enjoy the limited time I still do have with them right now? I’m not exactly sure, but I’m going to try.
“Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom,” from Psalm 90:12 will be my prayer.