Saturday, November 7, 2015

This is What I Left Childhood Looking For

One thing that I love about teaching older teens is that I think it keeps my own memories of that time close. I was just telling them the other day how in less than the two years their childhood will end and they will embark on one of the most exciting times in their life.

We leave childhood behind, excitedly and nervously anticipating all the great things to come. There are so many things. Think of all the amazing things many of us experience in just the first ten years from closing that door on our childhoods. We leave home, experiencing college with an independence and freedom we spent our adolescence dreaming about. We fall in love, we get married. We travel and try new things. We start our careers. We buy our first homes. Just as those first ten years away from our childhood are ending many of us experience the birth of our first children.

As most of us hopefully experienced this is one of the best, most surreal moment of those dreams from our childhood. Those moments are definitely some of the best of my life, but it wasn't just the babies I envisioned but more so this. My dad always said the best years are when they're older, and I'm starting to see where he was coming from. It's not that they're necessarily easier or less time consuming because whereas I use to spend my afternoons cuddling on the couch with my two year old watching Bolt five hundred times now it's running her to girls scouts, soccer practice, after school events, or going out in the yard to practice riding her bike or hitting the ball. So much of my time is their time as much if not more than it was when they were a completely dependent infant and toddler. Our time commitment to them doesn't end as they gain their independence but in many ways I think it becomes even more important as they get older.

It's exhausting and some days I feel like there's no time for anything else besides work and them but this is what I left my own childhood looking for again in the future. It wasn't the being on my own, it wasn't the freedom that comes with adulthood, it wasn't the career, the buying dream houses or cars, or even traveling to places I've never been. It was the family of my own. It wasn't because I didn't have that as a child but because I did. I saw what my parents had, I saw what my parents did, I saw who they were as parents.  Even though at some point around 18 I slammed that "rent" check down in my dad's hand and told him "there I pay rent to live here so now I can follow my own rules" I knew that what I would walk out that door someday to search for myself was exactly what they showed me for the last eighteen years of my life.

Until I became a teacher I really didn't know there was any other way to parent. All I knew were my own parents, aunt, and friends' parents who left no doubt in any of our minds that love for family wasn't just first priority but that it was everything. Now I understand why my parents left work early, why they gave up their evenings and weekends, why they rarely went out on dates. Even as a kid my parents would constantly say how this time flies, how it would be over before we and them knew it.

I've known it. These are it. These next 18 years with the last six and half are some of the best days of our life. Those early choices of how we birth our children, if we breastfeed or bottle feed them, cosleep with them or not, and the zillion other supposed right or wrong parenting choices are really pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things. To me the ones right now as they embark on the school and athletic years of their childhood are the ones that really count. Our presence, our time, our commitment to them and family will be the strongest block to building the foundation of their childhood. It's the greatest role we'll have in this life; it's the biggest factor in whether we lived this life well or not. It's not about how much money we make, how big the house is that we buy, how nice of a car we drive, but about what we teach the kids we raise about life and love. This is what I left childhood looking for: this moment of my life, and it's still just the beginning.



  1. I SOOOO agree with this! Family is everything! We are not only raising our kids, we are raising tomorrow!

  2. Well put! This brought me back to when I wanted to do something to leave a legacy and I realized that is through my girls that I leave my legacy so I gotta make the moments with them count.
    By the way your girls are getting so big and beautiful!