I'll never forget walking to the bus stop one morning with my 4 sons years ago and having them fight over which 2 boys got to hold my hands. I remember the moment like it was yesterday because I actually thought to myself to embrace the "silly little moment" because it wouldn't be like this forever.
And my "it wouldn't be like this forever" moment is now.
My sons are now 10, 11, 13 and 14. Three of them are in middle school and I can say - without hesitation - they don't need to hold my hand anymore while crossing the street or walking to the bus stop or strolling through the park. They walk in step with me, but hand holding with them just kinda stopped. It wasn't anything intentional, it just sort of stopped. It's one of those mom things that you just suddenly realize one day and wish you could remember the exact moment it stopped because you would've held on real, real tight to that last one.
I'm not trying to be dramatic here, I promise...even though I have tears streaming down my cheeks in this moment, I know that with age comes a different kind of relationship with your kids, especially with sons. I was blessed with 4 sons, all born within 4 years. I always joke that they each were born into the role of a big brother, except my Henry...my youngest son. He actually had 5 years under his belt before his big brother status happened.
But when they don't need your hand anymore, there's a mom moment when you need to decide how you will continue to keep the closeness and the bond there with your sons. I want my sons to feel close with me and know that I'm here for anything. Just like my hand felt like a layer of protection walking to the bus stop when they were kids...I want them to feel that same sense of mom-love and protection as teens. I want them to know my love is there, never changing...only growing stronger and stronger. I'm trying my very best to be there with a hug, a kiss, a shoulder to lean on, a voice to talk to, a smile to feel comforted by and a pat on the back to let them know I'm there.
It's tough when they get older because you don't want to lose them, but you know they need to start finding their own way in the world. I've been trying my best to stay in the loop and keep on top of everything going on, even (probably) seeming like a nag a times.
Talking. This is key for me. I've been trying to talk with them all the time. How's school? What's for homework? How was lunch? What did you like the best that I packed? How was art class? What did you draw? Who did you sit with at lunch? The yes or no questions are brutal because you only get one word, but I quickly try and expand off of it!
Being there. I love for them to see that I'm there for them. At swimming I'll come early and watch the last 20 minutes of practice. When one of them looks up and waves, it melts my heart. When we just make eye contact, I love them to see me smile. It's not a earth-shattering mom thing, but it's something. It's them knowing that I'm there. I'm there for them, always.
Experiences. It's also important to share experiences when them that bring us together as a family. Apple picking, pumpkin patches, bike rides, family hikes, road trips. Anytime we can be together for an "extended" period of time is like GOLD to me. I love talking and laughing with them. They may not need me to buckle them in anymore or grab some apples that are extra high up in the tree, but they do engage...and that's exactly what I want.
Dinner together. This is a sticking point for us. Dinner HAS to be together. You don't go to your room. You don't eat when you're hungry on your own. You don't eat on the counter. We eat around the table. And in our house dinner is late because swim team goes till 7:30 p.m., but I still make everyone wait. I still play the game with the kids, "What's ONE thing today that happened that was great?" We've been doing this for years and years.
It's not easy. There are times I just want to jump in a time machine and switch back to 2010! I miss the little boys who held my hand everywhere we went. It's just making sure they still know that you're there and that if they need you...you will be there for anything.
Man, on man...why did I even complain about potty training? That was easy street compared to teen years!