I have enjoyed the kids at every age, even as teeny squirmy people who screamed and were 'difficult'. I like them now, with their troubled skin and changing voices, with the propensity to still sleep with stuffed animals yet stay up until 1 in the morning. I like their independence as much as I enjoyed being needed for everything from lid removal to fixing owies. I still get asked what's for dinner, so I know I am not obsolete just yet.
I miss certain things. Morning snuggles that have been abbreviated to quick hugs or just a head in the door hello. Watching Little Nemo at least once a day for over a year. Walking around toys in every room. Nowadays, if it's not slobbery and squeaky and belonging to the little dog, there ARE no toys.
But mostly I miss the way they used to talk. Speddy-goes for Spagetti-os. The 'moke went uppa chivney. The couch had squishions. The middle of the alphabet was Elmo Inno Pea. Helicopters were hob-copties. We ate at Chachie Bell. Jake picked shobbie shobbies instead of flowers. A fork was a bean, they loved to get fin fies with their kids meals and eat them dipped in cats-cup. Dozens of other words, lost. We still make up words, our own vocabulary mixed with favorite quotes from books and movies, inside jokes and references only we and our close friends ever get. But it's not the same as those spontaneous mispronunciations of the single-digit years, when we drove a car via starting the bengine by putting keys in the bignition.
The other day, we were crossing a busy parking lot and I reached for Ben's hand-which is bigger than mine-and it wasn't there. He was already ahead of me, crossing safely all on his own. Is this what being a mother is really about? After nearly 17 years of assisting, am I destined to cross all future roads alone? Maybe the chicken was lonesome for her chicks.
I am excited for the future, I want to see what they do, who they become. But, some days, I get nostalgic and all too aware of how quickly the time is going by, how much is gone already, changes I never agreed to, growth spurts that have left me behind, interests that are private and activities that are never preceded with a "MOM! Watch THIS!" anymore.
It's hard being outgrown. Probably the hardest thing I've ever done.