My daughter is about to start high school and I am so happy for her because I know this is a big moment in her life. I am all about moving through milestones, breathing through them, documenting them, recognizing that they aren’t about me and registering that I’m just here to support my children as they wisp through it all. But still… high school? That’s a lot. I’m like… young. What the hell?
I got married a week after my 24th birthday. I was a child. I was the first out of all my friends to walk down the aisle and the second out of all my friends to have a baby. I started early within my circle never really thinking that it would also mean I would arrive at these things earlier than anticipated.
But here we are. Choosing electives. Choosing afterschool programs. Choosing potential college walkthroughs. Making real choices. And then there is my youngest son who is slowly pulling away from me at the same exact time.
He is 6 going on 16. He is a Fortnite champion. He’s racing to keep up with his big brother. He’s running on his two little legs as fast as he can in order to be with the tweens because there’s nothing more important to him than to be accepted by that group.
The first thing he says when he wakes up in the morning is, “Where’s Liam?” because it’s the only thing that matters. Caleb has to always sit by Liam, order what Liam gets at a restaurant, wear the same outfit as him, play the same game. Liam is Caleb’s hero which means he no longer has time for Mommy’s kisses and hugs.
I have to grab them when I can. I have to sneak them when he least expects it. I’m like an affection ninja – jumping out of corners and lifting him up off the group – consuming him whole until I’ve had my fill of his energy and then I walk away even when I’m not completed satiated.
There are still moments where I can get a few extra cuddles – in the early morning, whenever he is tired, and right before we go to sleep while watching TV. Those are the golden moments of my day. Anytime in between though? I’m all out of luck.
That boy is growing and busy trying to be a man. And it’s all very, very, sad to watch because he was the last string I was holding onto.
The fact that my daughter was entering womanhood was borderline acceptable because I always had my baby to give my love to and now that is slowly fading away as well. Why does it all have to be so hard?
And then there is my middle guy, Liam – the easy one. He’s the one that I take on trips to the store or on press events. He is ME as a child. Quiet, attentive, responsive, simple – we are very much alike.
He has my allergies. He likes to game. He loves logic puzzles. He loves to draw. I see myself in him the most out of all three of my children.
But he is 12 and won’t kiss me on the lips anymore and if he does, I see that he doesn’t really like it. So, I respect that.
Even our hugs are short and sweet. I’m noticing that touch is becoming different from him. Long embraces are over with my middle guy – I’m hoping it’s just a phase. I know it isn’t. I’m trying not to cry as I write this. My boy is turning into a man. I’m losing him too.
He will still hold my hand, rest his head on me, cuddle with me – I am very lucky in that sense. But he is almost a teen and the squishy kiss fests are over. That ship has sailed.
Again, I respect his boundaries. I remember being his age and not wanting to do that stuff with my parents as well. But now that I am on the other side of the coin, I can feel how hard it is to swallow that pill.
I can vividly remember laying on the couch with my mom and having her trying to kiss me and hug me and instead of me accepting it all, I just told her to get up and go to the love seat because there wasn’t any more room. I was too big to share. I was done with the kisses. They are done with the kisses… or just about done. I feel my mother’s pain.
So, three stages of life – all living in my house – giving me a run for my money and pulling away from me all at the same time. It’s a lot to take in. I’m trying my hardest to be present in the moments where we are all together. I’m trying to make everyone put their phones away and have SEVERE eye contact in an attempt to lengthen the squishy love fest for as long as we can because I recognize that the next few years will be over before I even know it. And then they will be gone.
I don’t want to spend the next few years in a hug-less home. Selfishly, I won’t be able to handle that. So, I just need everything to slow down. I need everyone to plug back into squishy love and I need the hardcore growing up and pulling away to stop. I’m all for my babies spreading their wings, but not at the expense of our family’s bond.
And I did this too. Don’t get me wrong. I pulled away as a teen. I distinctly remember doing it now that I look back. I think we all did. Maybe your teens didn’t or won’t – and you are very lucky if that is the case. But I pulled away so hard that the rubber band snapped. So, that’s why I know I have to try to stop this now. I KNOW how this story ends.
So, what can I do? What should we do as a family?
- Be there when they need us.
- Have a no-tech policy for the entire house after a certain hour of the day.
- Require everyone to do the same thing when we are together. If we are in the living room, we should all be watching the same movie. We all can’t be on 5 different iPads doing 5 different things.
- Have more alone time with each child individually.
- Involve more children in projects around the house – have them cook, run errands, etc. Stop doing things alone.
- Family game night.
- Ask them what they need from us – Family Contract Free Printable
Are you in the same boat? Have you gone through this sail already? Please share any advice that can make this ride less bumpy. I feel like it’s just something we all have to accept. Children grow up and don’t live in our arms 24 hours a day as they once did. It’s a right of passage. I get it! But it stings. It really does.
I just need everything to slow down for the next two years so I can adjust. I don’t… like it. As much as people complain, I love it when my little ones are crawling all over me. It’s one of my greatest joys of being a parent. And now, they are slowing slipping away. I guess this is what it feels like to begin that empty nest phase. They start to leave your side. UGH. Don’t make me start crying!
Anyway, if you have any advice for me, I would love a comment or a tweet or an email or ANYTHING.