Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up (to be mamas who don’t want their babies growing up)
posted by: Guest Blogger
It’s back to school time!
That means we are surrounded by school supplies at the grocery store, registration forms on the kitchen table…and moms who are heartbroken as they send their little darlings off for another school year.
I’ve never quite understood the constant boo-hooing by so many moms over their children growing up that seems to peak at the start of each new school year.
“I can’t believe my baby is X years old or in X grade!”
And I always think, “Really? You really can’t believe it?”
Because I CAN believe it.
I have been doing the mom gig for eight years now, and I can believe it.
Being a mom has been one of the most fun and amazing experiences of my life, and I love it. BUT, I have no doubt how long I have been a parent to my boys because I’ve been doing it every day, doing everything that it takes to raise them to this point. Nursing and nap time, diapers and doctor visits, teething and temper tantrums, cracker crumbs and cuddles, strollers and sippy cups, play dates and potty training, learning to walk and learning to read.
Like nearly every other mom, I’ve walked through all the many steps that led up to this point in my sons’ lives so it’s not a surprise to me that they are as old as they are. Nor am I sad about it. I’m happy for what they (and I!) have accomplished.
When did it become the “in” thing to mourn the forward progress of our children? Why do so many moms say they are so sad as their children embark on a new school year? Do we feel like we need to say that because it seems like all the other moms are?
Seeing your children move forward in life is a GOOD thing. It’s a wonderful thing! One of my favorite parenting quotes is from the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, when Toula’s mom, Maria, says to her daughter, “I gave you life so you could live it.”
Making sure your children grow up, move on (and move OUT!) is the most fundamental part of the parent job description. Do any of us strive for our adult children to still cling to us to meet all their needs? What a disappointment that would be.
I’ve never been sad that my children were growing up or growing older. Not once. I’ve always enjoyed and embraced every move forward they made. And I’ve looked around in wonder and confusion at all the moms who make comments expressing sadness or disappointment about their children getting older, moving forward and moving on in life.
Every step and milestone is a chance to celebrate how far your child has come, and frankly, a chance to say goodbye to things that were not so fun or enjoyable and the things that were downright difficult. You know? Those things like the painstaking process of potty training. Or wondering when you will get to sleep another full night? And someday—sleep IN?
I LOVE seeing my boys grow up. I love seeing them move on to the next grade, learn new things, and have the opportunity to begin a new journey every year.
So, moms, I hope this might give you an alternative perspective as your kids go off to school this year. Instead of bemoaning your child’s growth, embrace and enjoy it.
I’m not saying that you can never express any surprise or sadness about the passage of time, but that is not where we should live all the time. Our kids are listening to everything we say to them and to others—and we should not make them feel burdened with the idea that them growing up is somehow a negative thing that makes us feel sad.
I can only think that a parent would be sad about time passing because they have regret. What are you regretting? Do you feel like you missed out on something?
Here is my thought on that.
Every phase of life, for children and adults, has both good and bad elements. Be present and enjoy your children. Enjoy the good things about each phase, and when that phase ends, be glad for what you got to experience with your child, and you can also be glad for the lessons learned and difficult experiences that you are leaving behind. Enjoy the good, know the bad will pass, and as time marches on, have no regrets.
What a privilege we have to get a front-row seat in our children’s lives. Don’t ever wish you could hit the pause button. Let the show go on!
So, on this upcoming first day of school, I propose that instead of boo-hooing or saying, “I can’t believe…” or “I want time to slow down!”, how about we say, “YAY! I am so happy and excited for my child to move on to a new stage in life! I am so proud of how far they have come on their journey and excited to see them continue to grow.”
That’s what I’ll be saying, after I snap a few pictures and happily wave my little boy into the school building. And I won’t be sad—I’ll be happy, for him and for me, as we both move forward in our lives.
Won’t you join me?
Kim Fleischman is a mother of two boys enjoying all the wild and wonder of raising them with her husband, Todd.