Christmas Just Isn’t the Same When Your Kids Get Older
It has become more apparent to me recently that this holiday season is going to be quite different than any other for my family. Somehow I have become the parent of grown or nearly grown children. My daughter, almost 20 and my son 14 have become “big kids” and somehow I did not see it coming; or maybe I tried to ignore it thinking that if I didn’t acknowledge it that it wouldn’t happen; it happened anyway.
Either way, I find myself excited for the upcoming break from school, work and routine to spend some quality time with my family. Sharing my excitement about the break with my daughter she responded with the “Mom, I need to tell you something” line that made me brace myself in anticipation of her news. My daughter has decided to spend time with her girlfriend and her family for a few days before Christmas - meaning I don’t get to have her home with me for the entire break.
At first, I wanted to pout, throw myself on the floor and shout “NO! You belong to me! You have to be with me!” But instead of throwing a tantrum, I shared her excitement and calmly asked what the rest of her plans were. Of course, she will be home for Christmas and a short time afterward and that makes me happy; and I adore her girlfriend and am happy for them and the time they will share together. But what about next year and the year after that and so on; will there be a day when my daughter is not home for Christmas at all? And let’s not forget that my son is right behind her and at some point will have a life of his own away from me as well and will one day decide to make other plans and spend his holiday somewhere other than my house.
I don’t want to wake up in an empty house on Christmas morning. I want to wake up early and slip down the stairs, turn on all the lights and enjoy a cup of coffee before my sleepy headed children bounce down the stairs and rip into the gifts under the tree. I want to watch as their daddy fills the bag full of shredded wrapping paper, hands out batteries and attempts to assemble those “some assembly required” toys that take hours to figure out. I want to smell French toast, bacon, eggs and maple syrup in the kitchen. To be quite honest, I want my little kids back!
Knowing that there is no way I can shrink my kids back into the little people they once were and that it is inevitable that I will wake up without them in my house some Christmas morning, I have to find a way to come to peace with it all. Having spent three years in a twelve step program for various “hang ups” that I have, I know that the first step to overcome any issue is coming out of denial. One would think that this would not be difficult for me since just by looking at my children it is obvious that they are quite grown. My head knows that they are grown but my heart doesn’t want to admit it.
So how do I (and other parents of newly grown up children) cope with the changes that having grown or nearly grown children bring about? How do I deal with empty bedrooms, empty chairs at the dinner table and the quietness that lurks in every nook and cranny in my home? I don’t know. After nearly twenty years I still cannot find an instruction book to tell me what to do. All too often I have found that my parenting skills have come from spur of the moment instances that make me think quickly and often times hope for the best. At some point I need to realize that we are right where we are supposed to be and that this is normal and that somehow we have managed to raise two pretty cool kids who have turned into two pretty cool young adults.
Life as we know it is changing whether we want it to or not. So this holiday season I will strive to take in every precious moment I can with my entire family at my side (or somewhere throughout the house) knowing that these moments will turn into memories that I can hold onto when the day comes that my children will wake up in their own homes with their own families on Christmas morning making their own memories that will last a lifetime.