I love my kids.
What a dumb statement. I challenge you to find a parent who doesn’t love their kids.
I like my kids.
Ah, now that’s another thing entirely. I never expected to actually like hanging out with my kids at their current ages (four kids, ages 20 down to almost 15). Who would have expected teenagers to be fun?
I’m not going to tell you they aren’t a pain sometimes. They can be messy, they don’t do their homework when I think they should, they don’t have enough money, they drive too fast, they aren’t optimally employed this summer…
But they are interesting, (can be) helpful, ambitious and very, very funny. Not that I gave it much thought when they were younger, but I doubt I envisioned myself willingly choosing to hang out with my kids as much as I do now. I look forward to getting home from work and chatting with them, watching t.v. with them, going to their games and meets. I miss the ones who are away at school and love having everyone home at the same time.
Well, isn’t life just about perfect? Except for one thing: it can all get taken away without warning.
About six weeks ago, my son’s teammate died suddenly. My husband and son saw him one day, and the next day he was gone. Of course the initial shock was huge, both for us and for our son who was accustomed to seeing his teammate every day, often carpooling with him during their club season. At the wake, I came close to fainting in the receiving line. It was just so awful, so shocking.
When you sit next to the same people during endless games and tournaments, you get to know them pretty well. Such was the case with us and this boy’s parents. We had gotten to know them well enough to keep in touch after their son died- send emails every few days, meet for coffee at one point. Of course I wanted to be supportive as these people were going through the worst thing imaginable as parents.
As the weeks went by, however, I have found myself more and more preoccupied with the reality that something this horrible could actually happen, that anyone can be blindsided like this. I’ve become more conscious of what it would be like if one of my kids was suddenly not around- not home for dinner, not struggling with a particular class, not being happy (or unhappy) with their performance at a race or game, not making me laugh, just not being around. Could I survive something so awful? I’m trying not to let the feeling of panic overtake me.
I know this feeling won’t last forever. I’ll pull out of it, but I’ve been close enough to the reality of what could happen that I don’t think I’ll be able to shake it entirely. My preference is for all of my kids to just stay in the house all the time; that way everyone is safe, but obviously that’s not a real option. I love that they’re experiencing so many great things and growing and traveling and generally spreading their wings, but it is scary.
Can you love your kids too much? I doubt it. Can you enjoy them every day, be conscious of how great they are and make sure they how much you love them? That is my plan. I’ll let you know if I accidentally smother them in the process.
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Filed under: Parenting