I Blinked and My Kids Grew Up
The following is written by a dear friend of mine who, despite my numerous attempts at persuasion, does not wish to create a Medium profile. She has, however, given me permission to post on her behalf. I cannot tell you how much I have learned from her about parenthood and the parent-child relationship .
Everytime I reconnect with my older children after not seeing them for months, I subconsciously look out for changes in their personality. They feel like yours but there are always subtle differences each time — as they silently but surely evolve into their own person. You get a funny feeling something is off, like parting your hair on the wrong side or wearing your t-shirt the wrong way round.
The person before you is not the same person who left. I learned that your body’s cells die and get replaced continuously until in 7 years, your whole body is replaced by new cells. You physically become a different person. And this is how I realise I lose them. In pieces, over time. New skin that I haven’t caressed, a new heart that l haven’t pressed my ear against, new hair that I haven’t brushed, a new mind that is now autonomous.
I look at their baby pictures and l miss them so much. I am overcome with longing. Where did these children go? They were such a big part of my life and now I can’t find them anywhere. If I look hard enough though, and if I’m really, really lucky they make a brief appearance in the adult version. And that’s so bittersweet. I want to crush them with hugs and say — there you are! Don’t ever leave me again, I’ve missed you so much! But in one blink, the child is gone.
When they were babies the days seem so long but the years short. Babies, toddlers, teens, adults. In a microsecond. And you don’t notice the inflection point when they progress from one stage to the next. I know it seems silly but I feel as though I never got a chance to say goodbye. I can never kiss the baby again or play peekaboo or kiss a grazed knee. My eyes still look for them and my heart still longs for them.
As with many things, they have outgrown me. They are independent adults and no longer need to come to me for permission or advice. They are fully capable of making their own decisions. And this surely is my greatest achievement.
On the occasion that they do seek me out, I am flattered and grateful beyond reason. Because I know they WANT to share, not because they have to. I love talking to them like adults, they no longer skip the ‘illegal’ parts of a story and I no longer pass judgement. When they do ask for advice, I’m careful to walk alongside them and let them decide which branch of the fork to take, rather than lead them by the hand to a direction I want them to go. To be trusted by your children is a real honour. Not many have that and it’s something I deeply appreciate.