Her little nine year old heart is so young, yet so grown up. She would inform you it’s 9 and a half. In other words, in about 7 months, none of my babies will remain in single digits. It’s a new dynamic.
Gone are the days of baby curls, frequent mispronunciations and the stuffed kitty that we never left home without. In their place we have purposefully mis-matched socks, ipods & BFF charms.
In typical “baby” fashion she has a knack for entertaining and the dramatic. She’ll still cuddle with me, though, and will give me a kiss before she dashes out of the car each morning, hurrying off to fill the important role of “safety patrol” person.
The other day in her elementary school someone set fire to the trash can in the boy’s bathroom. There was a “real fire drill” and smoke in her hallway. She adores her teacher. He made her feel safe and she learned the meaning of “arson” that day. Later, she described it as “almost exciting”. These are not things that I can shelter her from any longer despite my wishes to hold on forever.
I’ll admit I no longer feel “in the trenches” when it comes to motherhood. When all of your little are little, it can be so exhausting. You rarely have any “me” time because you are constantly on guard… keeping children from putting things in their mouths that shouldn’t go there, making sure they aren’t sticking hairpins in the electrical outlet, keeping them from climbing on the table for the 40th time in a day… As your children grow more independent, you find yourself feeling like you have a little more room to breathe. I can fix dinner without children underfoot. I can close my bedroom door and take a “mommy time out” when I’ve had enough and expect the kids not to injure themselves or do anyone bodily harm. I can even leave them at home for an hour and go grocery shopping by myself.
However, parenting isn’t necessarily easier. Just different. In some instances, I think, parenting older children is even harder. Maybe not as exhausting, but definitely just as challenging. How do you explain evil in the world to your children? How do you teach them proper boundaries? When do you draw the line between forbidding them to do something and letting them learn by their mistakes? Sometimes I wonder if I’m even getting through at all.
She slips me a note telling me she wants to be baptized so she won’t be mean and make bad choices. Not to squelch her dreams, but I explain that you still have to make choices daily whether or not you’ve been baptized. You have to constantly choose to do what’s right. Life doesn’t get easier. It’s a lesson her momma is still learning. So, yeah, maybe we’re not quite ready for such a step, but she’s old enough to be headed that direction. It’s a new chapter of motherhood… remember, this is my youngest. Sigh. The others are even ahead of her.
So, maybe I get a few moments to breathe, but I can never really be off my guard. I am blessed to be a momma to my three girls. May I never forget to mother with vilgilance!