A lot of time can go by while you’re waiting for things to change. You wake up one day, and they did. Things changed while you read parenting books and made snacks and prayed for grace.
All of a sudden no one needs you like they used to, but they still need you. No one stumbles to your bedroom in the middle of the night with bad dreams, but they kiss you goodnight when they get home.
You’re early to bed, early to rise; they’re late to bed, slow to rise, and you wonder how you ever wished they’d sleep later.
Toddlers don’t really-actually become teenagers overnight, but the blur of life in between changes pace so suddenly, it makes the cliches ring true.
That’s the way it goes: you wish for sleeping toddlers and a solid night’s sleep and you find yourself tucked in by your teenager.
I’m not a wait-up-til-you-get-home mom, I guess. I feel bad about that sometimes. Texting is a mother’s nightmare and best friend when it comes to kids out late, kids driving, kids who aren’t sure what time they’ll be home. Text me when you leave is my cue to wake-up and watch the clock, but sometimes I stumble to the front door with vaseline-eyes to check the driveway at midnight, chiding myself for not sitting up in the living room, waiting like a Good Mom, showing my concern with my worry.
I’m not a worrier-mom, which is not to say I have more faith. The non-worrier doesn’t necessarily pray and trust God more than the worrier. I just can’t keep up with the list of Things to Worry About and I prefer to wait and see, wait and hope, wait and make apologies and corrections and substitutions in the middle of things I should have maybe worried about earlier.
It’s not a perfect way.
I think my skills of observation have significantly honed over the last decade, and watching a life progress can ease the worry—I thought they’d never be potty-trained and never stop making backwards ds and never outgrow that annoying habit. I try to remember that when it feels like they’ll never _______(fill in the blank).
As these kids have grown and their worlds have enlarged, my ability to see has quadrupled. I still have blind spots and a need for spectacles in some places; my eyes are only aging. But I see so many small things now. I tuck them away. They nourish a mom-heart, laden with guilt and dizzy with the rapidly spinning earth.
Days whiz by, but a kiss on the cheek from a stoic teenager, a discussion of Scripture, a little sibling cooperation or a revelatory insight from that child you think lives in the clouds—these little things are the stuff of a mother’s dreams.
Somewhere someone heard these lines between Bert and Ernie:
“How do I look, Ernie?”
“With your eyes, Bert.”
And it’s a phrase repeated at least once a week in our house, because we’re like that. It’s funny on the surface and has a depth that we delight to see hidden.
You have to look for the bread crumbs and pay attention to the signs and see with your eyes the little things happening. In a house full of people, you have to notice that someone asked before they took the last piece of chicken; someone held the garage door open a second longer for your grocery-full arms, instead of passing through obliviously; someone smiled first thing this morning (a thousand words, right there). Two girls laugh over a secret you don’t mind them having, it’s dark and the boys are still throwing the football, and it’s late but there are voices from upstairs bedrooms.
All the times you told them to be quiet and go to sleep when they were little and now you head off to bed before your kids. Tired: not because your kids are young, but because you are old.
I try not to wait for things to change anymore. I know they are changing, so I try to see better and appreciate the subtleties.
It’s a backwards economy. Reverse growth. Older but wiser, all of us.