When they were little, I had them all to myself. We spent our days living, moving, breathing altogether.

I took those days for granted. I complained about their neediness. I blogged solely to keep my focus on the good that was mixed up and mashed in with whiny children, peanut butter sticky fingers and messy floors. I learned to seek gratitude; to look at life through a focused lens; to appreciate each moment, despite its difficulty. I captured events and memorialized all the little moments that added up to days well lived.

I learned a dance that involved a whole lot of backwards and forwards and sideways turns that came unexpectedly. But I danced alongside them.

Now they’re growing up.

And I have to share them (I’ve never been good at sharing).

I’ve been relegated to the sidelines (Although I still try to get some time in the game).

But it’s not a little give and take anymore.

It’s no longer a backwards and forwards dance.

It’s a solo dance where they take center stage and I stand backstage, holding my breath, watching. Just watching.

It’s so different. They’re pulling away.

Seeking independence.

Testing the waters of life beyond these four walls. They stick their toes in ever so hesitantly at first. But soon I notice they gain confidence and the hesitant first dip quickly becomes a plunge.

Already I miss them and that intricate life we carved out so many years ago.

I miss the early morning snuggles on the couch and the quiet awakening of the household. I miss the rocks in the pockets and the sand in their shoes. I miss the unadulterated adoration. I miss the superhero outfits, the inside-out, backwards shirts and the shoes on the wrong feet. I miss the bedtime routine of a story, a gentle massage, a heart to heart talk that often included a complete confession of the day they lived. I miss the quiet schedule, the intense playtime, the hours outside living a life imagined.

I miss the spontaneity of the little years; the unpredictability of what they might say; the togetherness that came so naturally to the life we chose to live. I miss the nature walks that were filled with wonder and new discoveries; the hours spent on a trail without any rushing; without something else pressing to do. I miss the natural gravitation of my children to gather ’round me; to beg for my attention (“Mommy, watch this!”); to seek my approval; to want to be near me doing whatever it is that I’m doing. I miss the ease with which I made decisions and set the framework for our family to follow.

I miss the obvious things, too…like not having a teen around with attitude; not being questioned about every decision I make; not having to juggle so many schedules, so many events and still manage to squeeze in so much needed downtime and rest.

I miss not wondering how each and every decision I make will affect who they become; will it stilt their progress, will it stump their growth, will it deter them, devour them, guide them, ruin them.

It sure seemed a bit easier when they were little.

But I suppose easier isn’t always fruitful. Or nurturing. Or life-changing. Sometimes it’s just easier because we don’t want harder.

Growth and change aren’t typically comfortable. Or easy.

A little tug here, a little discomfort here. A little push here, a little pull there. It’s not easy, that process of change. And maybe that’s why it has the potential to be so amazing. Because the tough stuff makes us, well, tougher. The difficulties force us out of our comfort zone and push us into the unknown where we learn quickly to sink or swim. Survival of the fittest and all that jazz.

I don’t like this change (actually I don’t like much change).

I don’t like the rush of moving on to their next phase without even having a moment. A moment to reflect; a moment to pause; a moment to reassess. A moment to plan. A moment to just stare at them as they are right at this exact moment. To soak up every little detail because when I blink, it will all change.

I don’t like not being able to catch my breath, to take a look backwards, to appreciate that last moment before plunging into the next.

I don’t like being forced to look in the mirror and reflect on myself (which so often happens in the world of parenting).

But it looks like this isn’t about me.
It’s about them.

And they’re growing.

And they’re pulling away.

And it’s my job to simply keep up. To move along the sidelines while the game keeps going. To keep my eyes focused on the movement as it blurs right past me.

This road definitely doesn’t feel easy. And I feel unprepared.

But I think there might just be something beautiful and amazing along the way if I can just learn to trust the process. Let me refocus my lens over here. Push myself out of my comfort zone. Close my eyes for a brief second and breathe into what’s coming next.

As they grow, I grow. And as I grow, they grow. And our individual, yet ever connected gardens might just exponentially beautify the world around us. But it won’t happen without change.

And so I change; and they change; and for this brief period, I’ll embrace change.

And we’ll see where the journey takes us.