Parenting a Pre-teen, a new phase

As Josh and I are adapting to, or even beginning to understand what life is like with a pre-teen, I find myself looking in the rear view mirror and missing our babies. Whenever meeting someone, at a new job or what have you, when I get to the part where I share that I am a mom, I always introduce myself as a mom of 3 young boys. Three young boys. I have said this for 5 years straight now. But as I look at our boys they aren’t all so young any longer. When did this happen?

Hunter is turning 10 very soon. Deacon is 8 and is almost as tall and weighs nearly the same as his older brother. They basically wear the same size clothes. When Hunter got new sneakers recently, I easily scrunched my feet inside them. Now, they still have plenty of growing to do. They are only in 2nd and 3rd grade right now but they aren’t little and far from being babies. And as we approach the end of our childcare days, Wyatt will be getting on the bus with his big brothers next year, both literally and figuratively. He will be entering kindergarten so ready for a big year of firsts.

Maybe its my mama brain that needs to adapt to this mentality of being a mom to little ones. I mean, I know I need to but how? For 10 years we have had little boys! We have learned the ins and outs of parenting littles. We can ace the test and even know the hacks! We know how to acclimate from 1 to 2 and from 2 to 3 babies. The ebs and flows of parenting with plastic plates and sippy cups and blankeys and bike rides. What was once the scary, nervous, anxious unknown soon became the confident, routine, okay we got this. I didn’t say easy but with routine grew confidence in our parenting of 3 little humans.

Anyone that has ever posed the question, “How do you do it?” no matter what the case, my answer has always been this- it may sound intimidating now but soon it becomes your new normal. Slowly but surely you adapt. Something may only seem difficult or impossible because it isn’t part of your life right now. But soon it will and you will figure it out. (Sounds like I should take my own advice here.)

I look at our boys and can still see that 6 month old baby and when they reach up, their little, chubby arms barely reach around their big heads. And they can put their foot into their mouth and drool and begin eating with a spoon and make the biggest mess. I can still smell those drool bibs and diaper pails and day old bottles. Then they begin to crawl and walk and then run and then ride a bike! It all happens so fast. (Now I smell feet and armpits!) And just as we were there for all of those big moments, we are here now by their side for the next big moment.

They led us along the way. That’s just it. With trial and error, we learned. We have adapted from our old lifestyle of newlyweds to parents. And it took time, a lot of time. 10 years to ace this sh*t. 10 years of us learning alongside our babies how to best care for, protect and make those really tough decisions for them. 10 years of firsts. First bottles, diapers, first day care-givers, first days of school, first vacations, first friends, teams, birthday parties, illnesses and stitches and speech therapy and first tough conversations. And now? Now, they continue just as they always have and lead us blindly into this next phase. As parents, we continue to evolve and learn alongside them.

It’s scary territory ahead. Maybe I like the idea of being a mom to little boys. It’s comfortable here. Maybe it’s the unknown that scares me. Maybe I don’t want to let go of their youth so quickly. Well I definitely don’t want to let go of that. However just as we have (mostly) aced parenting these 3 young boys, I should remind myself that we will continue to be the best parent to them in this next phase even if we don’t know exactly what that looks like right now.

The things that scare me the most are the big decisions and tough conversations and meeting their emotional needs. Girlfriends and best friends and making the team or making the grade. Bullying, social media, school dances and video games. All sounds intimidating and we have only scratched the surface. Mothering a baby is 100% in my control. Mothering a pre-teen or teenager for that matter is more about letting them go a little, to experience life and be their own individual while hoping that we gave them the tools they need to succeed in their first 10 years of life. It is no longer about spoon feeding and stroller pushing but more watching them and cheering them on. Missing them while they are at school all day every day but also celebrating their achievements. Also being available, the ones they go to when they need help and support.

It’s a hard thing to do to let your heart walk around on the outside. But I tell you what, I am here for it with 110% presence and care and love. More than they could ever ask for. That much I got. And the rest? The rest I’ll have to learn along the way and pray for God’s guidance. And having parent friends in the same phase, or even a little ahead to give insights will always be beneficial. Just as I have given insight to new parents about breastfeeding or pottytraining I need a little talk about what it is like when they have their first kiss.

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