We’re not done with childrearing. Obviously. With a seven year old, we’ve got at least another eleven years before she ships out for college.
But we’re at the point where our kids are becoming adults. With Lilli heading off to college this fall, Sarah going into her junior year and Jessie starting high school, our biggest kids are either out of the house, launched into adulthood, or at least with one foot out the door.
I’m trying to adapt to being a mom with older kids. With adult kids. Because that’s what we’re talking about – adult kids. They aren’t just older, we’re not just talking tweens and early teens. Lilli is actually a bonafide adult.
I’ve still got my baby. My little one, who whines too much, and pushes the limits of my patience sometimes. The one who still curls up into me at night and won’t fall asleep unless she’s got my arm wrapped around here. I’ve still got Sam, and while he’s older than Julie, he’s still within the “kid” range. I still do a lot of hands-on parenting with him.
Lilli and Sarah – it’s a little different with them. I’m the stepmother – so I’ve never really done the nitty-gritty parenting stuff. Not the doctor’s appointments and school conferences, not the planning of after school activities and nagging them about homework. What I did do was provide a safe space for them to be themselves. To play and run and create religions on my porch, and sell homemade perfume, and race tricycles down the hill. That’s what’s ending.
I still have my Jessie – and fourteen is not eighteen. While she may be edging ever closer to adulthood, she’s still mine. But Lilli and Sarah are, for all intents and purposes, grown up now. Sarah is still in high school, and will still need rides around, and she’ll still come for Shabbat dinner – but the days of playing outside with my kids are over.
I’m not done with childrearing yet. I’ve still got a ways to go. But more of it is behind me than in front of me, and I’m wistful and sad. And proud – because we’ve done a good job so far. The kids have grown up together, with a sense of belonging and togetherness. The three Cohen girls are a unit, and I’m incredibly proud of that.
I’m also incredibly glad that I’ve still got a little one who needs me to wash her hair in the tub, a boy child who still calls me “Mama,” and a fourteen year old who might be within walking distance of adulthood, but isn’t there yet.