Silver linings

The last couple of weeks have been pretty monumental, in a lifetime landmark kind of way, even though they have unfolded somewhat uneventfully.

Two weeks ago, my eldest child completed his thirteenth trip around the sun on this planet. I am now the parent of a teenager, and I will be for the next nine and one-half years (the youngest won’t exit her teens until 2020 — ye gods, what a scary date!) For some mysterious reason, this milestone wasn’t quite as hard on me as the completion of his twelfth circuit last year; maybe it’s because he grew more than a foot in height during the past year, his shoes became large enough to double as lifeboats, and his voice changed. Dramatically. (We think he will end up singing bass.) The actual birthday had an afterthought-like quality to it: “Oh, and by the way, you are now the parent of a man-child.” No kidding! Have you seen my grocery bill?

That same week, my youngest went to sleep-away camp for the first time. Mind you, the eldest didn’t do that until about a month before, so for the ten-year-old to be ready for something like that is a Big Deal. (If you know them, however, you also know that it’s not surprising given their respective personalities.)

And today is the First Day of School, the first day of the last year in which I will have a child in elementary school. My SO helpfully reminded me of this while we were lying in bed trying to get our brains around the reality of once again getting up every morning at 6:00 a.m. I don’t know if he intended to be helpful or if he was wrestling with the concept himself and simply spoke his thoughts aloud. Clearly the notion caught my attention and triggered all sorts of other thoughts. And with my newly-restored hours of peace and quiet, those thoughts congealed enough to become this post.

Maybe this won’t be so weird or difficult after all.


10 responses to “Silver linings

  1. Ah! there you are!
    glad you are back, and sharing the ordinary/extraordinary moments with us again.

  2. Missed you! Wow! Babies growing up, are they? These are monumental milestones (is that redundant?) that you wrote about. So much extraordinary things happening in such ordinary ways. Ah, life!

    So glad you’re back.

    • Jennifer Barricklow

      Thanks, Nancy! It’s wonderful to be welcomed back so warmly.

      I think that when our kids are little, it seems some days as though we’ll be wiping faces and tying shoelaces forever. Even as preteens/teens, they’re still awfully dependent and needy, so the flashes of independence take us by surprise. I’m guessing those will become more frequent, eventually turning the tables so moments of dependence are but occasional flashes in a sea of confidence and competence. It sounds so orderly when I write it like that, but I know that it is (and will be) anything BUT orderly! Ah, life, indeed!

      Thanks for reading!

  3. I’m so glad those days are over for me!

    You’ll survive it, Jennifer — just keep looking forward to the day when your kids are finished with high school.

    Their freshman year of college might also knock you for a loop, if it’s anything like my daughter’s was, but I think this one, sophomore, will be a better year. (fingers crossed)

  4. Ah, my old friend the writer. Thanks for the view into your life.

    • Jennifer Barricklow

      How nice it is to see your name on the comment list! Thanks for reading, and for letting me know about it. 🙂

  5. Jen, thanks for writing about this. Even though we had a very long talk about all this recently, reading it gives different perspectives. I was so caught up in our conversation that I wasn’t thinking of this huge milestone in D’s life and yours. A teenager! i can’t wait to see him so that the changes he has gone through can be real to me. The girls told me he has gotten”big” but I have to see it to believe it. What you wrote about glimpses of independence vs glimpses of dependence made me so sad. I a m not ready for my kids to be so independent. I don’t want to rush them off to college. Please God help me to soak in every minute of this time that i can and enjoy it to the fullest creating memories that will nurse me through the time when they don’t need me as much anymore! see you soon.

    • Jennifer Barricklow

      The good news is that kids don’t become independent overnight; it really does happen gradually. It’s been happening ever since they got here, but the process as a whole is so incremental that the little leaps seem enormous and take us by surprise. I think it becomes more subtle as they grow older, too, because development in older children is more a matter of refining existing abilities/capacities than acquiring new ones.

      You’re a great mom! 🙂 Don’t worry about making memories. You already remember the oddest, most amazing, most heart-rending things, and you’ll continue to do so. And don’t forget that you’re a little further away from this than I am because of the ages of our respective kids. It may not seem like there will be enough time, but as it unfolds it will turn out to be exactly the right amount, for each of you.

      Thanks so much for commenting! See you soon! 🙂

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