I’m not gonna lie. I miss having Little Ones. I mean I really miss it. I miss chubby, jelly-smeared faces. I miss sticky kisses and fat little arms around my neck. I miss the way my little boy said, “welwoah” and “wemon cake” and dandewion.” I miss they way my daughter used to pretend to be a baby shark – all year long, on land or in the pool. I miss the way my younger daughter spent day after day wearing fairy wings and snow boots and the way our littlest one used to play with his toes and sing a sleepy song just before dropping off. I miss all of this and so much more.
But I’m not surprised. Even at the time I knew that the moments were precious and the time was fleeting. I knew I would miss having little ones. What I did not expect, what I did not know I would lose, is the friendships I formed in those days of playgroups and play dates and long, lazy afternoons by the pool.
At the time, I did not realize what a gift it was to sit for a couple of hours (or more) each week with my friends and drink coffee or sweet tea and visit while our children played. For me, having small children meant having time for friends. As a stay-at-home and a homeschooling mom, hanging out with my friends was actually a part of my job description.
Of course, I still have friends. Some have moved. Some of us have gone back to work. But none of us had a falling out. We still love to hang out and drink coffee and talk. But now, those opportunities are rare. There are no Saturday mornings at the park because Saturday mornings are for ball games and lessons. We don’t hangout by the pool in the summers like we used to. Sitting in the sun with friends watching your seven year olds swim is normal. It’s good parenting. If my mom friends and I joined our teenagers at the pool now several afternoons each week, they would be mortified. It would be weird.
So, we do the best we can. Somehow, every once in a great while, a few of us find a night when none of our kids has a game or a practice or a band concert, and we have dinner.
I keep telling myself that, just like those years when I could not sit down to a meal without being interrupted to nurse or take a toddler to the bathroom or wipe up spilled milk, this is a phase, a season of life. The teenage years are, in some ways, the years of isolation for moms.
Or maybe not. Having teenagers does afford me hour and hours of late night solitude as I wait (and pray) for my kids to get home safely. In those hours, I am able to connect with moms all over the country thanks to groups like Grown and Flown.
I was thrilled when I found a website and Facebook group specifically for parents of teenagers and young adults. Like a lot of aspects of
middle age this time in life, mothering older kids entails its own unique set of joys, sorrows and frustrations. I am delighted to be connected to a supportive group of women who know what I am going through. I am even more delighted to have been able to write for Grown and Flown.
In recent weeks Lisa and Mary Dell, the women who run the site, have published two of my posts. Family Dinner: We Lost the Table and Found So Much More is about the way my family has connected by turning out kitchen eating area into a comfy sitting area. Teenagers: I Want to Remember These Last Times is about the bittersweetness of going from a house full of Little Ones to a house full of teens and tweens.
In the years that my children were small, I needed my mom friends to help me through the stress of teething and weaning and living day after day with a house full of needy little people. Those days are over, but I still need mom friends now to help through these years of living in a house full of needy (and sometimes moody, sometimes hilarious, sometimes infuriating, sometimes delightful) big people. Even though we don’t have a weekly excuse to hang out drinking coffee anymore, I am still grateful for my mom friends. And I’m grateful for my cyber mom friends too.
After all, as Mary Dell and Lisa say, “Parenting never ends.”