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Being a parent is hard. It’s a job filled with ups and downs and twists and turns, like a wild roller coaster ride. Sometimes you end up upside down hanging on for dear life, just praying you don’t fall out and you can make it to the next turn.
I always see parenting blogs talking about the different stages of childhood from newborns, to toddlers, to the crazy teenage years and how “you’re going to miss those temper tantrums one day, so cherish every moment. I don’t know how I will feel by the time my last child graduates high school, but as of this moment, in this time, I can say I don’t think I will miss a single tantrum, and I admit, I don’t cherish those moments. In those moments, I feel like a failure. Why didn’t I teach my son that you don’t get your own way by screaming bloody murder?
But you know what? That’s OK. It’s OK to feel like a failure and it’s OK not to cherish those moments, no matter what that blog says. There are blogs for everything these days. Those parenting blogs go from one end of the spectrum to the other. From the “kids will be kids, so don’t stifle them by disciplining them. So what if they knock over $132,000 sculpture? It’s just their self expression,” to the “if your kid can’t do trigonometry by four, you’re a failure and they’ll never go to college.”
There has got to be an in-between. Our job as parents is to teach our kids to be good people who other people can stand to be around. The other stuff is just bonus in my opinion. One thing that most of those blogs do get right is that it goes by too fast. One minute you’re hiding from a screaming toddler and the next you’re comforting a heartbroken teenager who lost his first love.
One day you wake up and your son is taller than you. Some changes are gradual though. They go from rolling their eyes when you tell them to clean their room to doing their own laundry and hanging things up without being asked. Where stuffed animals and other toys once sat, art supplies and alarm clocks take their place.
I don’t know how I’ll react when it’s my boys’ turn to graduate but I do know it won’t be pretty. I went to graduation this year and as I scanned the rows of parents, I saw some sitting stoically, probably forcing their eyes to stay dry, others were crying softly, but they all shone with pride. It made me tear up thinking about the empty nests some of those moms would have in the coming months.
I told my oldest I would be a sobbing mess when it was his turn to graduate and he said if he got to make a speech at graduation it would be, “Hey everyone! There’s my mom! She’s the one over there, crying on the floor. I’d like to thank her for all my success.”
My middle son wore a cat shirt everyday of fifth-grade. Anytime I was out somewhere and saw one, I’d get it for him. And every single time, he acted like I gave him the moon. He asked for new cat shirts for sixth-grade “so people didn’t get bored.” As I’ve discussed before, I’m a planner. So even though there are six grades left until he’s a senior, I’ve already planned to make his cat shirts into a quilt to give him for graduation. I will continue buying them for as long as he wants because honestly, these are the little things that make me smile. These are the fleeting moments I cherish.