My hopes and dreams now the days of parenting little kids are behind me

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock 

My son turned 10 recently, which means both of my kids are in double digits now.

My parenting work isn't done, obviously. Far from it. My husband just drove my stepson to university. He's "launched," I guess. But he'll still need guiding.

Heck, I still need guiding. I was in my late 30s when I called my parents to tell them my marriage was over and then cried in their kitchen on-and-off for two years. Mostly around major holidays. (Whee!)

So you're never done parenting, I'm gathering. But my days of parenting little kids are behind me. They don't need me as much for basic survival. They don't look to me as much for their entertainment.

They make their own plans and tuck themselves in and send me texts that make me laugh during work. (It's embarrassing how high my heart soared when my daughter started a text string labelled "FAM GC.") (Family group chat.)

They've gotten big. Which is, itself, an incredible gift. It's also got me reflecting on a decade gone by.

My son gets birthday wishes. I have birthday hopes.

I hope I made a big enough deal about the big stuff and a small enough deal about the small stuff. You don't know, as they're happening, what moments will turn into milestones and memories that will forever shape the way your kids go through the world. Those moments are rarely, I'm finding, the trips and triumphs and traumas you assume will loom large forever.

I hope I haven't glossed over tiny moments, good or bad, that felt monumental to them. I hope we've lingered long enough. I hope I haven't inflated moments, good or bad, that didn't deserve a big chunk of our time or our hearts. I hope we moved on quickly enough.


I hope I've stepped in for the right number of sibling disputes. Not so many that they can't work toward a compromise on their own. Not so few that their relationship feels bogged down by conflict and resentment. I hope they always adore each other.

I hope they've seen me laugh a lot. At myself. At them, when they wanted me to. At stuff that could've ruined our days had we let it. (Looking at you, times my car was towed from outside their school. Yes, times. Plural.)

I hope I've made them apologise the right amount. Often enough that they know how to say, "I'm sorry." Not so often that they rush through it, forgetting to pause and check how their insides feel when they've hurt someone.

I hope they keep letting me tell them crazy, made-up bedtime stories. Even though the characters haven't changed much since they were babies. Even though they can tuck themselves in. Even though they can read to themselves.

I hope they've learned that the world is filled with enough risk to deserve their caution, but not so much risk to keep them isolated and scared.

I hope they feel a pull to make the world safer and healthier and more equitable for the people around them.

I hope they'll start packing their own lunches this year.

I hope my son will add a vegetable or two to his current repertoire of two.

I hope it's OK that I usually say yes to ice cream after breakfast.

I hope they know they're the centreĀ of my universe, but not the centreĀ of the universe.

I hope they're becoming the kind of friends you want for your whole life. And the kind of roommates you don't mind having in university. And the kind of employees you hope to hire. And the kind of colleagues you hope to work with. And the kind of partners you hope to grow old with. And the kind of adults who visit their aging mum a lot.

I hope I'm doing OK. My son and I are a decade in. My daughter and I, a few years more. I hope we get decades and decades and decades more. I know not to take a minute of it for granted.

I hope we keep growing - if not all in the same direction, at least along paths that easily and happily cross for our whole lives.

Chicago Tribune