Growth is inevitable. It’s a consequence of living on this aging world, marking its time as it spins around, taking all of us with it.
Yesterday I bought a new car and part of my decision was impacted by the fact that this would be the car my 13-year-old daughter will learn to drive on. Stuff like that shakes parents. I can’t help but wonder if I’ve done enough to prepare my not so little ones for the parts of their future that will either not include me, or will include me only on a limited basis.
Now that my kids are 13 and 9, a lot has changed. Gone are the bedtime rituals with bath, story and snuggle time. Now that it’s summer I usually go to bed before the kids do, and I know I can trust my minis to turn the TV off and be in bed by 10.
Dinner is no longer bland, smushed foods. My kids’ palettes are maturing. They like things like peppers, spinach and even many of the vegan dishes I make. We cook dinner together and exchange in dialogue about the recipes.
I find myself talking to my kids – especially the 13-year-old – like I would talk to adult. Perhaps not the same subject matter, but in the same tone. It is a give/take conversation, an open exchange of ideas. My children have always inspired me, but now that they are able to articulate original ideas and thoughts, I’m finding myself in awe of them more and more each day.
And as I witness their growth I can’t help but think of my own growth.
Sometimes I forget that I’m an adult. I feel like a kid still, just feeling out the world and trying to figure out what I want from it all. I take wrong steps, stumble back, and sometimes crawl, but the momentum is always forward. Even when I want it to stop.
But you can’t stop the world from spinning.
So many things have changed for me in such a short time.
Relationships come and go, leaving me more distant and removed with each one. But out of this place of fear comes a strength that surprises me. Relationships are different in our 30’s. Baggage and hang ups and a throng of bad experiences, all heaped atop each other, pepper every interaction whether we admit to it or not. Somewhere along the way, out of the mess of my past, I’ve learned to shoulder the burden. And it’s making me braver. I’m realizing that I can reach my hand through the fray, fully knowing the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of my getting hurt, and still allow myself to try.
As I grow I’m learning to take my days as they are, to appreciate those little moments with my children while they are still young. Pictures they still sometimes draw for me, their smiles over ice cream, and big hugs for no reason.
And I’m enjoying that rush of pleasure when my phone dings and I see “Him” come up on my home screen.
Little touches and sighs, forehead kisses and other moments that seem so incredibly perfect I just want to bottle it up before the shadows move in to remind me of the pain to come.
Now I am more aware of the shadows, but they used to surprise me. I’d experience a perfect moment and expect all moments to be just as that one. Then a less perfect moment comes, or one that is disappointing or painful, and the shadows would consume me before I knew they were ever there.
Now I see the shadows lurking all the time, and I know they seek to take away every perfect moment. They play with my expectations. I suppose this would (should?) make me bitter and cold, even farther removed from relationships.
But knowing the pain will come is not the same as fearing the pain.
I know my kids will grow up and leave. I know that chances are “Him” will someday stop popping up on my phone and he’ll be just a memory to me. I’ll move from this house I love, trade in the new car I love, lose friends, make new friends…
The world is going to keep on spinning.
But somewhere through all the pain and shadows, the disappointments and trials, I decided to stop fighting the inevitable and to just enjoy what today has to offer.
The man who has offered me no promises still makes me laugh in a way no one else ever has. At least for now.
My growing children still sleep down the hall, relying on me to take care of them.
I’ve decided it’s not just enough; it’s absolutely perfect. And since I can’t bottle it, I’ve no choice but to inhale the joy of it right now, in the very moments these things are happening.