My husband likes to roll his eyes at me when I do something for (or with) the kids that he thinks is excessive, or beyond age-appropriate. Don’t worry, internet parent police – I’m not doing anything weird. We are talking about pouring a cup of milk, scratching backs at bedtime, and pausing my evening tasks to give extra bedtime kisses to chase away nightmares. See? Not weird. Not excessive. At least not to me.
We all know that the parenting experience is different for men and women, in obvious and sometimes funny ways. But, I want to tell you why I stand by my eye-roll-inducing choices. Because I’m hyper-aware of how quickly my children are growing up.
Case-in-point: my oldest is less than a month away from thirteen. In many ways, our relationship can be described as close. We get along well at school (the poor girl attends the school I work at – which is a wonderful and sometimes horrible thing that I really should write about some day) and we are close enough that she still openly shares a lot of her day-to-day “action”with me. But, sadly and quietly a treasured eye-roll-inducing task has disappeared. See, every day since the moment my oldest sweet girl had enough hair to make a teensie-weensie ponytail, I’ve been doing her hair. Even when she was a baby and would pull out the rubber bands before I knew about the “good” ones, even when she was a preschooler and liked to “let her hair down” sometime between nap time and pick up time, and even as a first semester 7th grader because I was always able to make her hair stay “flat.”
Then one day a few weeks ago someone dared her to wear her hair down (gasp!) until after Advisory. And then she never asked me again. At first, the hustle and bustle of the morning routine was enough to distract me from the loss, but after repeated days of wearing multiple rubber bands on my wrist I became painfully aware that my hair-styling time was up. And it’s good because I can’t do her hair forever, and growing up and becoming independent is the goal. And it sucks, because I can’t brush her hair a few more times than necessary just because it’s nice to be close to her.
So, I smile defiantly at the eye rolls when I read the incoming text, “mommy can you come tuck me in.” I smile and tuck in that almost thirteen year old, kissing her forehead and wishing her sweet dreams. And I’ll try not to freak out about the fact that there was no text for the last two nights. I’ll just tell myself she was just really tired and fell asleep…I hope.