This weekend my husband, Rocco and I met my 16-year-old step-son, Gabe’s new girlfriend for the first time. This was eye opening for so many reasons. Not only did it make us realize how fast time really does go, but how much our children getting older really change our lives annd our parenting. We no longer have babies. We actually don’t even have toddlers anymore. We have all school-aged kids who can be self-sufficient for a good part of the time. This kind of crept up on us without us realizing it until now.
The Parenting Shift
This is Gabe’s first “real” girlfriend. Seeing him with her and holding hands with her, as crazy as it was, put things in perspective for me quite a bit. Even though he is still young, this girlfriend could potentially be around for quite some time. On top of this, I realized he’s is not the only one growing up. It’s the girls too.
I began realizing this this weekend, during their performance of the Nutcracker. I used to rush down to the dressing room in between acts to help them get into their next costume. This year, though, they did it all by themselves before I could even get there. Don’t get me wrong, it is nice that they are independent, but at the same time it kind of makes me sad that they don’t need me as much anymore. What happened to my little babies?!
With these changes, comes also the realization that the way Rocco and I are with them, and how we parent changes too. As much as I want the kids to be babies and need us forever, that is impossible. They grow up regardless. So now, what we have to do is provide them the tools and the confidence they need to run with this new found independence they have developed. Even though it is a turning point in our parenting lives, just like them we will grow and change to provide them what they need. And on the positive side, their independence leaves room for us to finally have a life again!