I recently had the revelation that my kids are no longer babies. Of course, I have noticed minor maturity changes in their conversation topics, television show choices and Christmas list items. But a few weeks ago, one specific incident made me admit to myself that my babies are no longer “babies.” That incident was when my son slashed his finger with a kitchen knife and NEVER cried. I mean he never cried when it happened or when he saw all the blood or fleshy part of his finger or when he received 6 stitches. He took it like an (cough cough) big boy.
At first I was a little taken aback by this, but then I realized a whole new mommy/kid relationship was beginning. They still have their baby moments where they throw fits about ridiculous things and refuse to follow simple rules. But instead of being clueless on how to help them, I can see how their minds work and have a small clue as how to assist them through the situation. I am honestly more excited about this emerging relationship compared to when they were babies. I feel that this one is more conscious and will truly make them the adults they will become. I am not naive in thinking that this will be easy; I am just hopeful that it will be more fulfilling. I will be the first one to admit that those baby years were not my favorite. Those years were defined by feedings, sleep training, and reaching the next developmental milestones. I hope that this new stage is defined by creating memories, teaching respect, and cultivating positive attitudes and self esteem.
Instead of being sad about my kids growing up, I have actually embraced this new relationship. The first way I did this was to reflect on the purpose for this new stage. I know that during this stage, they need a whole different kind of guidance and attention. They need the guidance that is required to practice right from wrong and the positive attention that is needed to build self confidence and importance of being true to themselves.
I am excited about my kids growing up because I now feel like I can be a part of their lives and not just take care of them day in and day out. The hilarious and insightful conversations have already started, and I cherish that glimpse into their future personalities. I can actually see how they view the world without being too self conscious to ask me questions and discuss their thoughts. Another thing that is really exciting about this new stage is seeing what specific interests each kid gravitates towards and being able to truly experience that with them. There will definitely be times where they will still want to be my babies by snuggling up to me on the sofa or want an extra hug before going into school, but these will be more meaningful because it’s more of their choosing and not of my forcing.
To me, this stage is the best stage of childhood because it is smack dab between those anxiety inducing baby years and those dreaded preteen and teenage years. I can’t wait to see what it holds!