Friday, September 14, 2018

Seasons of Parenting

I read the FTSF post on Facebook this week which was "10 things about the changing of the seasons...". The first thing that came to my mind was how the seasons of parenting change. That seems to be on my mind a lot lately as my now teenagers are growing and changing just as fast as toddlers do, it seems. I brushed it off, though, because I usually don't have much time to write these days and, while I still love writing here in this space, it has gotten pushed far to the back of my priorities shelf. 

However, speaking of seasons, it's hurricane season and I ended up with a quiet day at home today thanks for Hurricane Florence. (That will probably be the only thing I ever thank her for!) I live in central NC and, fortunately, as Flo has approached our coast and made landfall, she has weakened. Original predictions, though, had her coming in as a Category 4 and having a huge, devastating impact on our state as far as 300 miles inland closer to where we live. With that earlier forecast in mind, schools closed for today fearing the worst. Since then, the predicted path has changed and the storm actually came in as a Category 1. There will still be flooding and significant damage, for sure, but I now have this lazy day at home to write a little blog post. 

So, focusing back on the seasons of parenting, here's how it breaks down in my mind:
  1. Expecting - This is the stage when you are just expecting your first child. You are blissfully unaware that you have no idea what you are getting into and that you will not have a sound night's sleep again for the next 18+ years. 
  2. Newborn - You have brought your bundle of joy home and are now delirious with love for this tiny human. However, you are also sleep derived, confused, constantly worried, and have most likely defaulted to yoga pants and ponytails as you have no time for showering or make up. 
  3. Toddlers - When you're in this season, you are knee deep in potty training, tantrums, and baby-proofing everything to make sure your sweet little angle doesn't ingest a bottle of Mr. Clean or take a headlong dive down the stairs. **This stage is often complicated by combining it with the newborn stage if parents add second and third children into the mix. In that case, you are in the sleep deprived newborn stage and the hyper vigilant toddler stage all at the same time. Good luck! 
  4. Elementary  - In this stage, you are in disbelief that you precious cherub is old enough to go to school and you shed tears as you watch him/her tote that ginormous backpack into the classroom where they will be with someone else more hours in day that they will be with you (at least awake!). Secretly, though, you are looking forward to a little time for yourself. This stage also involves considerable paperwork - all the school forms, school fundraisers, permission slips,  . . . . . .
  5. Older elementary - By this stage, you have gotten used to dropping them off in the carpool line. Instead of crying and savoring snuggles in the morning, you are constantly saying "Hurry up!" and sticking a granola bar in their hand as you rush them out the door. Hopefully, they are doing most of their homework on their on with just a few gentle reminders, because you will soon realize that you are, in fact, NOT smarter than a fifth grader due to the fact that's not the way you learned to multiply or apply commas. The kids are somewhere between "Hold me, Mommy!" and "Don't you dare kiss me in front of my friends!" Bedtime is pushed back closer to 9:00pm and your grocery bill is consistently rising in order to satisfy their constant need to snack. 
  6. Middle school - Hormones, homework, and mood swings - oh my!! You spend hours and hours in your car chauffeuring kids to all. the. things. 
  7. High school/teens - You've somewhat gotten used to the hormones and moods swings - you can now take them in stride and, occasionally, even predict them. You actually kind of miss all those hours you spent in the car because, now, they can drive themselves and you don't see them much anymore. But you worry - every second you are not with them, you are worried about them in a whole new way. There are new stressors, too, like college decisions, car insurance, and dating. You also laugh at the you who thought they ate a lot when they were a few years younger - these teenagers can put away some food! 
  8. College  - I'm not quite here yet, although I can hardly believe that I will be in less than two years. I imagine this stage is a grand mixture of pride, loneliness, and uncertainty. I'm just getting used to my oldest driving herself and I already feel like our time together has been drastically reduced. I can only imagine the vacuum I will feel when she goes away to college.
  9. Young adults - Obviously, I'm not here yet, either. I envision a time of travel for my husband and me while our kids are independent adults. I am certain I will miss them immensely, but my house will probably be a whole lot cleaner, too! 
  10. Grandparenting - My own parents have tried to describe the feeling of being a grandparent, but it is apparently a feeling that is tough to articulate. An overwhelming love, but one that is different form the way you love your own children. I can only suppose that watching your own children experience these stages themselves is quite an exceptional experience. 
I should also mention that these seasons often overlap. What seems like a long time ago and also just like yesterday, I dropped my oldest off for her first day of kindergarten with a toddler tagging along and a two week old newborn in a carrier on my chest. Now, my oldest is a teenager who recently got her driver's license, while my younger two are still in middle school. Having come this far in parenting, I would say that no season is easier than another. They are all just different, each with its own unique challenges and joys. 

What season of parenting are you in right now?

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