I now have four big kids.
They all know how to tie their own shoes, buckle and unbuckle their seatbelts, swim, write their full name, and now they are officially all in school! I can hardly wrap my head around it because we were in the baby/preschool stage for so long! Suddenly I am MIDDLE of motherhood, or in the thick of it as some might say.
I know not everyone falls into a cookie cutter family having 2.5 kids at age 27 after graduating college and getting married. For a lot of moms though, the tween or middle school years do often fall right around midlife. It makes things interesting because in some ways a midlife mom is experiencing some of the same growing pains as a middle schooler! My favorite description about being in your forties is that you are an old young person and a young old person. Apply that to tweens. They are no longer adorable children with chubby cheeks that request pasghetti and meatballs, but they aren’t cool teenagers that are nearly independent either. It’s an awkward stage.
I don’t consider this whole middle section of my life as an awkward stage, but it is certainly uncharted territory and I am navigating what this next chapter holds for me.
The youngest is in all day school for the first time. She just lost her two front teeth and learned how to ride a bike.
With each of my other kids they were the baby until the next baby came and suddenly they were a big kid. Elle never had that right of passage so the challenge is to help foster her growth instead of treating her like the perpetual baby.
Little brother is in fourth grade now and has a locker for the first time, which he is super proud of. He is about to enter into the double digits on his next birthday.
Big sister is in 6th grade. She has a phone, she’s in the youth group, and she is going to be 13 this school year. WHAT!?
Then there is the impossible fact that I have a high schooler.
He has a friend who can drive now so that has brought on all kinds of independence. We see him gradually drifting away from us, but in a healthy normal way. He still loves his family and we will continue to take trips and have meals with the six of us, but naturally he is starting to hang out with his friend more and more. There are some evenings where there are only 5 of us at home and he is off doing his own thing. I can’t believe he’s about to be 15 and get a driver’s permit!
I have a lot of feelings about all of this growing up business. Actually, I have a metaphor for my motherhood experience so far. Close your eyes and imagine you are the passenger on a road trip. Now imagine you are constantly looking back at a bunch of young children. There are babies screaming, sippy cups and goldfish crackers flying. You are passing back bottles and wet wipes. The demands and volume increases. You start singing the “wheels on the bus go round and round” and find yourself laughing and crying all at once wondering how much longer until you get to your destination. Then you finally have a chance to turn around and face forward. You rub your neck because of the strain from facing backward for so long. You start to look out the window at all the beautiful scenery, but you are distracted by how fast the vehicle seems to be moving. The closer you get to your destination the faster if feels like you are going and there is nothing you can do to slow down. So you just buckle up and start singing “Free Falling.” That is what I feel like.
The years of having little kids were so amazing, but also exhausting. Then the older they get the more I feel like time seems to speed up! Even with as crazy as I make this metaphorical road trip sound it has been the greatest blessing of my life. As I look ahead to the next season of guiding my children into adulthood I am optimistic. If it’s even close to as good as the first half then I know I am in for treat.