Monday Musings: Transitions in Parenthood
“Change is situational. Transition, on the other hand, is psychological. It is not those events but rather the inner reorientation or self-redefinition that you have to go through in order to incorporate any of those changes into your life." - William Bridges
I'm in a new season of parenthood. This week we celebrate my youngest's 10th birthday — our middle child turned 13 in the fall and our oldest will be 16 in less than a month. Needless to say, my husband and I are living in an unfamiliar space, and I'm feeling nostalgic and reflective.
This next year will bring more situational changes, and like William Bridges said, their psychological reorientation means they are transitions. These transitions are redefining my role and igniting a plethora of emotions.
For one, our two oldest children have become increasingly independent. Like typical teenagers, they spend a good amount of time in their bedrooms when they aren't occupied with school, sports or activities. Most days we don't hear from them unless they are hungry, need a ride, money, etc. Basically, they still talk to us, but the free-flowing conversations are limited. We sometimes get lucky and they open up, and then we hang onto every word. These conversations are usually funny, sometimes deep, and other times, a short glimpse into their lives so we have to pay attention carefully. I remember when they were little, and I prayed they would stop talking so I could experience a moment of peace. Now the quiet car rides make me uneasy. I prefer the talking.
Our oldest obtained her learner's permit and will be driving unaccompanied in due time. We are currently car shopping, and we have important discussions about the responsibilities she will assume with the privilege and opportunity to own and drive a vehicle. Heavy stuff. Weren't we just potty-training?
In addition, this spring will be our last semester with a child in elementary school and I'm savoring it. After this year, there will no more classroom parties, classroom volunteer opportunities...the list goes on. It's bittersweet because I am ready to say good-bye to elementary school drop-off and pick-up lines (they seriously are the worst), but on the other hand, she is on her way to more independence like her older sisters and that's really hard to imagine.
I also love a lot about this season. Most mornings are smooth sailing. They get themselves ready for school, prepare their own breakfasts, pack their lunches and keep watch of the time so we don't leave the house late. I always hoped this day would come and it has, thankfully!
Traveling is also enjoyable. All three help with the laundry, pack their own suitcases and they truly appreciate new experiences. It warms my heart. I believe that all our of traveling woes and stressful experiences when they were babies and toddlers prepared us for this new season. Worth every unnerving experience!
There are so many wonderful aspects of this phase, but my favorite is the maturity they begin to express as they come into their own. Teenagers begin to form their own opinions, priorities and ideologies. They are intentional with how they spend their time and what they value without even realizing it. I find myself awestruck and proud of who they are becoming and will think to myself, maybe the kids are alright after all.
Change and transitions are inevitable. My husband and I have experienced many, but this season feels different. It's a sobering reminder that every phase of their childhood is temporary, time is always passing and one day you're going to arrive on the other side with a mixture of emotions. But, for me, I'm overwhelmingly grateful.