As the Ride Winds Down – Thoughts on the Last Moments of Childhood

Gina Butz parenting 3 Comments

For parents of teens: enjoying the ride before it's over

photo by Hannah Morgan

This summer I spent a good amount of time with my niece and nephew, who have a combined age of 3 1/2, and I was taken back to those early days.

Days when it felt like time stood still. Days when I never actually finished a story in a conversation because someone was suddenly tugging on my leg (they were such good stories too). Days when I was proud that I showered or made dinner. (Who am I kidding? I’m still proud when I make dinner).

Fast forward to me now, and the seasons go by like the days used to pass. Now it’s their stories and jokes I love to hear. They’re making dinner (praise Jesus). But I’m realizing that this ride is starting to slow down.

In a few weeks, I will sit in the silence of a house void of children as they head back to school. I know that I will blink and it will be my reality every day.

I’ve only realized lately that I no longer have to buy sippy cups or crayons or children’s toothpaste. We don’t go to the library or playgrounds to pass the time. I’m staring down the last years of their childhood. Like a kid who feels the carnival ride is winding down, I want to eek out the last moments of this precious ride.

That’s why, kids, I want you to just come and sit with me in the evenings. No, not even to do anything, but just to be together.  It’s why I linger for end of the day unexpected questions at bedtime, and sneak back in after you’re asleep just to look at you (I’m creepy like that. And also because, sweet girl, you say wonderfully nonsensical things when you’re half awake).

It’s why I love that I get to drive you to school so I can be with you just a little longer and hear your voices. It’s why I look forward to seeing you every morning and I thank God that I get you one more day. It’s why those moments when you do still need me are so precious.

I want to go crazy making sure we do all those last “we said we would” activities and vacations. I want to play games and go for walks together. I want to fight for weekly family time, even if all we do is sit around together and wonder what we should do.

This is when I wonder if we’ve taught you everything, and how you’ll do without us (I’m sure you’ll be fine – it’s me I’m worried about). I want to tell you everything I think you’ll need to know for all time (I realize you’ll just be graduating though and that we will probably continue to communicate, but just in case).

I question if we’ve loved you well and if you will say you enjoyed the ride too.

It’s slowing down, but it’s not over yet. I’m sitting alone one night and she comes in to say, “I was turning on my fan and thought, ‘I just want to see my mommy.'” He’s at home alone and decides he’s bored enough to clean the whole house for me. She has a hard day of school and decides the best place is my lap, curled up just like she used to when she was just that little. He starts each day by finding me for a hug.

I’m going to cherish every last second.


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Related posts:

What I Want More than Your Happiness (one of my most popular posts!)

The Power of a Mother’s Words 

What Nobody Told Me About Parenting Teens

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