Let Them Be Little

3kidslittle image

3kidslittle image

Let Them Be Little

Recently I have found myself reflecting, reflecting back to a time when my kids were little. I remember, when looking back, wishing that my kids were older.

Middle-of-the-night feedings and diaper changes, the sudden onset of a painful earache, and snotty noses that needed wiping — and even a few hospital stays. I remember laying with one of them until they fell asleep (when I would rather be watching my favorite show or getting the rest that I so desperately needed). I miss watching Barney (OK, maybe not Barney), Little Bear, Teletubbies, as now it’s kinda silly to watch them alone (not that I do! Except for the occasional Max and Ruby).

The Open Houses, parent-teacher conferences, Halloween (when we didn’t know if we could afford that popular costume), or having enough money for Christmas to give my kids the kind of Christmas I remembered having as a child. The cold, wet soccer and football games where I wondered if my child would be injured. The baseball games and volleyball games, sitting on pins and needles, agonizing over my child getting their first hit or their first serve over the net. Why didn’t I just let them be little?

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As a parent, I was always second guessing myself. No one handed me a book and said, “This is how it’s done.” You make mistakes with the first, are still learning with the second, and hoping with the third that you’ve learned all you needed to make the right decisions. On occasion, I didn’t make the “right” decision, but the decisions were mine.

I am always a parent, no matter if they are one or 22, or older. Always looking forward to that ‘next’ stage, when you think it will be easier, only to find out that it comes with a new set of challenges and rewards. I helped with homework, because I was sure I knew how to do it, only to find out it had changed.

I went through kindergarten graduations, fourth-grade graduations, then high school graduations, only to wonder, “Where has all that precious time gone?” I looked forward to each summer vacation which, in fact, only brought me one year closer until they left home.

By that time, it’s my hope that I have given them everything I can, to make them that adult I’d wished them to be for all those years. I found out that although I raised them, they are each unique, their own person, with their own thoughts and ideas. Then I wonder how it is possible to have raised children all together, to have each of them be so very different.

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As I look at my life now, I see my “kids,” who are almost all grown and out of the house. In the past five years, I have gone to two high school graduations, a Marine Corps graduation, and a wedding. I’ve proudly (and nervously) sent one off to college, with another due to graduate in 2014.

I also am now an “instant” Grandma Willis, which is what brings me to this state of reflection. Where has the time gone? Why couldn’t I have just let them be little? Why did I rush them through the years of being babies, toddlers, pre-teens, teenagers?

Each stage had its own challenges, struggles, rewards, and proud moments, but where did that time go? I miss that time as each day passes, knowing that this year, my youngest child will go off to college. Of course, as a proud parent, I look forward to those days. However, it doesn’t mean that the time of worrying about my children has ended; the worries just change. Would my oldest be OK when he was sent off to Afghanistan, will my middle child be OK while away at college, will my youngest enjoy her senior year and be prepared when it’s her turn to go off to college, and the world?

I miss my children being little. I miss holding them until they fall asleep, their first steps, their first day of school…all of their firsts. But then I realize, this is how it supposed to be. I did my best to prepare them for their future — what they do will be their choices and their consequences. Did I do enough? Was I good enough? Will I always miss having them be little?

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If there is only one take-away from all this, it should be this: If you have little ones, just try to let them be little. Enjoy each moment. If you don’t, they will all too soon be the past, and there will be no getting it back.

That doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy them when they were little. But it seems like their childhoods went by in the blink of an eye. I do, of course, look forward to their futures.

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With my granddaughter, I take time to do the little things — things that I didn’t do when my kids were little. That way, when my grandchildren are grown up, I can look back and know that I let them be little, with no expectations or pressure for them to “get older.”




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