I’m a Capricorn and I’m a parent. Capricorns are known for their penchant to give advice, and I have this penchant in spades. Being a parent, of course I give parenting advice all along, whether I really know what I’m talking about or not, but I’ve learned a few things over the years, including in the business of education pretty much since I left college. Kids are what I do. I even babysat from the time I was eleven years old. So if I know anything, it’s kids. Or to be more precise and professional about it, I know child development. As a parent of a child with Asperger’s Syndrome, I know child development intimately, and what it looks like when it is skewed. Small advice on that, trust your instincts, mom. If you think something isn’t quite right, tell your pediatrician and don’t let him or her give you the “oh, it’ll all even out eventually” speech. Get to the specialists, get the testing. If your kid is ok, it’ll show. If not, early intervention is the key to your child’s success.
But that is a topic for another day.
Today’s spouting of advice is to let you know, whatever you are experiencing as a parent will end eventually. This phase of development will end, whether it is the constant demand of a newborn that exhausts you all hours of the day and night, the toddler exploration that drives every tiny piece of muck from the floor into her mouth or the destruction of your home environment in ways you never imagined possible, the I wants and whines of a preschooler to a preteen or the back talk and eye rolls of your pre-teen to teen.
The nursing that seems to suck the life out of you will end. The nursing that gives the special closeness you never dreamed possible will end.
The constant curiosity and amazement with everything around him will end. The nice spitty sucked fingers in the outlet guaranteed to give a charge will end.
The exuberant jumping on or off the sofa will end. The intense focus on dinosaurs, legos, drawing will end. Well, maybe not, you may have an artist, builder, archeologist or Olympian long jumper on your hands, but what an incredible place to start.
The eye rolls and flip flop of hormonal emotions, the sneaking and secrecy, intense friendships and heart pulled deeply in any direction away from you will end. So will the late night or car ride talks when you have your teen alone. Those times when you’ll get a glimpse of this young man or woman and who they’ll be, how they are likely to handle the world on their own, and whether or not you will think, alright, they’ll be okay, or have to let go even if you think they won’t be okay. Then hope they'll at least be alright, eventually.
In every phase of childhood and parenthood, you and your child will rise to meet each other, negotiate the constantly shifting sands of your landscape together to rise into an adult. A day will come when the constant aggravation of his climbing the stairs when the gate is undone, or opening the kitchen drawers or inserting paper or bologna or puzzle pieces into the VCR, DVD, Wii slot will become family lore to share and look back on wistfully or in hysteria. Remember the time Junior jumped off the garage roof and broke one wrist and sprained the other? Yea, that was hysterical! And then he’d ride his bike around the neighborhood no handed, cast and splint up in surrender! Remember the time the police brought Junior home because he was riding his bike around town center at midnight? Yea, what was he, twelve? Yea, yea! Remember the time Suzy smeared poop all over her bedroom wall by her crib? Hahaha!
The seemingly impossible to survive times are survived, and eventually reflected upon or laughed about. But don’t forget to mark and hold the good moments, too. The intimate moments bed snuggling with the newborn, their sweet, warm, musky smell, their translucent skin and peaceful sleep. Don’t forget to hold the full–out preschooler laughs over farts at the dinner table, the spaghetti covered face, the midnight bad dream slip into your bed by the nine year old. The sofa snuggle and popcorn on movie night. The way the sunlight hits her hair in the off-shore beach breeze, the scent of salt and sunscreen on his skin, snow angels and snowball fights. The moment your teen looks at you in one of those deep conversations that appear to be on the surface, and says, only with his eyes, yea, I get it, even when the rest of his body language says otherwise.
Don’t forget the milestones and everything in between, because all of it will come back to mind, rise to the surface and you’ll wonder when that phase ended, when the sands shifted and created these new dunes in her life. The old dunes were so familiar.
This too shall end and you can hold it dear, or let it slip away. Let the tough stuff wear away with time. Keep it all close to your heart, because it’s not just your child’s life that is growing and changing. It’s yours.