We were passing by the community playground on Saturday when a dark thought hit me: I don’t miss that at all. It was so unexpected, it actually made me catch my breath.I was leaving soccer practice with my fifth grader, having spent the previous 90 minutes kicking soccer balls with 10-year-olds.
The mothers on the playground, however, were wiping runny noses and lifting 30-pound kids onto swings. They were looking for the Goldfish crackers and explaining the concept of sharing to resistent toddlers. They were doing what I did on most sunny days years ago, yet only Saturday did I realize how much I don’t miss it. Not one bit.
What the heck is wrong with me?
Aren’t we supposed to be wistful for our kids’ “little” days when they think you’re so spectacular, they cry when you shut the bathroom door, or they shout, “Mommy!” just to make sure you’re on call?
We’re supposed to hate the teenage years and cherish the light-up sneaker days, right? But I don’t. I actually enjoy motherhood more as my kids get older.
On Friday night, I watched the Marx Brothers’ “A Day at the Races” with my 12-year-old, and he laughed in all the right places. On Saturday, I took him to a farm to buy fall decorations and a homemade pie. On the way home, we planned out a video I plan to shoot this week and he even offered to write record a song for it.
I coached my fifth grader’s soccer practice on Saturday and his game on Sunday. At dinner at my in-laws’ house last night, he sat next to me in his soccer uniform and I wore my coaching sweats. Before dessert, he went outside to juggle the ball while the grown-ups chatted inside.
And I thought I love this. I love not being needed every second. I love how self sufficient my kids have become, how they understand my jokes, and how they make their own — and they’re good. I love –dare I say– that they’re not little anymore.
“Tweenagers,” I believe, are a sneak preview to adulthood. How they are now is a lot like how they’ll be when they grow up, minus the brother-on-brother wrestling matches. (I hope.) It’s sort of a status report that our parenting is working and a bit of reassurance that the kids are turning out okay. And it’s a payoff for all those afternoons on the playground, wiping runny noses and looking for the crackers.