I read a lovely post yesterday written by Sarah from Mum of Three World about her twelve year old son's growing need for independence and it got me thinking about my own experiences.
My eldest son turns eighteen in a few weeks time. Eighteen. It is a weird feeling when your child is heading for this huge milestone. They have grown up, become adults. I look at my son now and he is an intelligent, independent and very mature. Working, driving, doing well at school, I may get frustrated with him at times and his teenage tendencies, but mostly I feel very proud to have been a part of raising this young man. We don't see as much of him now as we would like to but as they grow older, they do become more independent and they don't want to do family things all the time.
Eighteen years ago, I was heavily pregnant for the first time, unprepared, inexperienced and completely unaware of how my life was about to drastically change. When my son finally arrived, it was the most amazing and terrifying time of my life. I made so many mistakes but when I look at him now, I know that I did okay as he is about to start thinking about moving on, travelling, going to university.
Sometimes, I think that having the eight year gap before adding to my family was a good thing. I certainly learnt from my mistakes and with the three younger children, I have definitely done things differently. But one of the main things that I have learnt in all of my years of parenting is that whilst the early years can sometimes feel like they last forever, but they don't.
A is four in December and I feel like those four years have flown by in a flurry of busy days and manic moments. That is partly because life is hectic and partly because she is the youngest of four children and she has had to slot in with the others from day one. I made the decision this year to take one day off and spend the day with her; just the two of us, as next year she will be at school and I won't get that time with just her again.
The important thing is to enjoy it. Enjoy your children and that amazing family time, before it's too late. All to soon, they are teenagers, adults even and although they will always be your 'babies', they won't need you as much, they will want their independence and their own lives. Yes, we all have work to do and there will always be things that need doing, but make sure that doesn't get in the way of that family time. You don't want to look back in twenty years time and think that you always had a clean house, but maybe you should have spent more time with the children instead.
My priorities have definitely changed recently in favour of cleaning and stressing less and going out and spending time as a family more and I am happier as a result. Yes the house isn't always as tidy as it could be and the ironing basket is never empty, there will be plenty of time for that in years to come.