There is that sadness. My best friend showed me baby pictures of my oldest two and I really didn't know whose babies those were for a few seconds. I hardly recognize that time now. There is something really depressing about that. And about the fact that, as they age and grow into the world-our very broken world, we can't protect them the way we could when all they needed was a hug and their favorite toy. That stuff is absolutely difficult.
But it's beautiful getting to watch your small child grow into adulthood. It really is.
And as much as people complain about this age group, I am noticing some awesome things.
1. Being able to watch a broader spectrum of things that aren't cartoonish and loud with them is definitely a plus. Their tastes become more sophisticated and suddenly you can share music, films, pop culture, and video game stuff together that they felt separated from in their younger days.
For the record, sophisticated in this house still includes "The Annoying Orange", but we totally watch that as adults, too. For my husband's birthday, we put on the old campy Mortal Kombat movies. We both loved those and the games as kids so it was a memory-lane thing. To my amazement, my older kids filtered into the living room and wanted to watch it with us! They loved it like we did. That's awesome.
2. Nap times ruining the day's plans are not a thing anymore at all. Anytime everyone is awake, you can do stuff. That's amazing.
3. My older two are still sort of picky eaters, but that is getting better and better every year. With age comes not so sensitive taste buds and a willingness for new eating experiences which beats the heck out of an elementary kid that wants to eat grilled cheeses every meal.
4. You won't walk through their room and almost kill yourself tripping over toys. Backpacks and sports stuff and art supplies, maybe. But the piles of toys get smaller and smaller every year. And they get better at picking up.
5. The chores they can help with are more helpful. You won't have to refold all the clothes again if they help you...probably.
6. Their sense of humor. They will get your jokes. They may not find them funny, but they will get them. They will also tell their own jokes.
7. The ways you can spend quality time together grow. Your tween and teen will find the loud, boring play place as annoying as you do. But the arcade, a spa day, boogie boarding, crafting? They are down for it. It's way easier to have a family fun day where all of you actually have fun.
8. You get to watch their budding interests. Your tween and teen can do things like building their own games with code, or write a novel, or paint murals. They are becoming their own people and it's awe-inspiring to watch.
9. You can have real talks about real things. And imaginary things. Your tween and teen will have their own fully formed and articulate thoughts to share.
I know there are drawbacks. I do. Especially in the world we live in. You'll have dating, exposure to the kinds of things and substances that can hurt people, and trying to plan for the future and watching someone you love this much navigate these obstacles...that's the hardest thing you will ever do. But it's so amazing to parent older kids. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise.