Are we parenting from the rear view mirror?
Over the past couple of weeks, the back-to-school rush has been in full swing. New schools, new milestones, new sports activities- it’s the beginning of lots of new things for our kiddos and for us as parents. My Facebook feed has been filled with first-day-of-school photos displayed by proud parents (me included). But, along with those proud and joyful moments, there’s often a hint of bittersweet regret. Our kids are growing up too fast. Where did the time go? They aren’t babies anymore. I hear and see those phrases a lot.
I can honestly say, though, that I have not felt any sadness about my daughter starting Pre-K. Not even a hint. I have, however, felt a twinge of sadness as my son’s first birthday came and went, but I’ve made a conscious decision to try not to indulge those feelings too much.
Dwelling on the past means it’s about me, not my kidsI cringe a little bit every time I hear parents lamenting the fact that their kids are growing up. Maybe it’s because I work in a children’s hospital and I’ve often seen the alternative. Some people’s children don’t get the chance to grow up, so I feel a responsibility to always remember how lucky I am that mine have that opportunity.
Of course, I know that just because someone is sad that their kids are getting older doesn’t mean they aren’t grateful. In fact, I’m sure they are very grateful. It’s just that being sad that a kid is growing up seems like the parent is mourning a loss. But for a kid, growing up isn’t a loss; it’s a great adventure. I want to join in that adventure with my kids, not wish we were somewhere else. So rather than indulge my own thoughts of what it was like to nuzzle a newborn, I would rather think about how exciting it is to teach my daughter to read or marvel at how much she’s learned about dinosaurs.
I try to remember not to make this family we’ve created all about me. I don’t want to inadvertently send the message to my children that all of my happiness is centered on them and that once they are all grown up, I’ll have nothing left. The burden of being a parent’s everything is too much for a child to carry. Instead, I’d like to join my kids on the journey and enjoy every minute I can along the way.