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Parenting Big Kids: An Uncomfortable Transition

Parenting Big Kids: An Uncomfortable Transition

Parenting Big Kids: A New Reality

My kids are currently 11 (nearly 12!), 9, and 6 (likely 7 by the time this post comes out!) and I’m finding that this season of parenting big kids couldn’t possibly be further from the touched out, constant supervision, survival mode of having babies, toddlers, and preschoolers (all at once!).

My sweet not-so-little angels have reached the time in their growth and development where they are much more interested in spending time with their friends than spending time with their mom. They no longer require my constant attention, observation, and caregiving.

In this stage, they can prep their own light meals (currently working on remembering to use the twist tie for bread and to clean up after themselves), fill their own water bottles, toilet, dress and bathe themselves, and clean up after their own messes (with a lot of nagging, of course). They’re often out of the house spending time with friends for hours at a time and live very full lives away from my husband and me.

I know that this is completely normal and to be expected.

And trust me – so much of this season has been so fun and fulfilling as a mom. I love seeing their confidence to spend time with their friends and it has been SO COOL to see the relationships they are building with their friends and other adults. It also gives me the chance to build relationships with their friends, which has been great. The sweet, sweet freedom that has come with this stage is not something I take for granted after having three children each 29 months apart (not on purpose!) I watch friends that still have younger kids and am always grateful that I am past that phase of parenting.

All of that being said, the identity shift hasn’t exactly been easy to reconcile.

Where does this leave me?

This is the question I’ve been grappling with for some time now. Where does this leave me as a mother to kids who don’t require so much of my physical, mental and emotional presence, and what do I do with all of this time that results from being a mother to kids who don’t require so much of my physical, mental and emotional presence?

What do I do with my time? What do I even LIKE anymore? Who am I outside of “Olivia/Henry/Arlo’s Mom?”

Friends, I’ve had a much more difficult time grappling with this than I care to admit.

I remember longing for these days during the survival years. I would often remind myself that the extreme dependence and all of the needs (sooooo many neeeeeeds) would not last forever – it was such an important little hope nugget at that time. The newness of this season still feels very uncomfortable.

Re-connecting with myself as a human and learning to adapt as a mom

I haven’t quite found myself again yet; life experience and motherhood have had profound impacts on who I am. But I am learning about myself. I have re-connected with some old loves (watching TV…and watching tv in the age of Netflix is a wholly different and mind-blowing ballgame!), and I’ve found some new ones (gardening, plants).

I am also finding myself as a mother in this season– the nuances of listening vs. trying to fix when they’re sharing about conflict with friends, noticing how my daughter’s pre-teen attitude can trigger my anger like nothing else can (that’s a post for another day!), and really having to put my money where my mouth is to put action behind my belief that being radically honest in a developmentally appropriate way with my kids is incredibly important for them and for our relationship.

Through this transition, I am learning that they do still need me in so many ways; those needs just look very different than what I’ve been used to.

Like all things in parenthood, just when we think we have it figured out, they go and change it up on us.

So, I guess I can find some comfort in the fact that there are some things in parenting that never change.

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