Yesterday, my older two went back to school. I am happy for them but it is a little bittersweet. As I wrote a friend,
"I'm excited for them, we all love school and the new activities it brings, but yes, it reveals the passage of time for them and for me. The years are going by . . . I think that never will I be more loved, seen as more powerful, imagined more wise, felt more strong, than I am in these years of intensive, hands-on parenting. The kids still belong to me more than they belong to themselves and I mourn that ending. My mom did too. Of course, it is a tremendous blessing to have healthy strong kids who will start to pull away and become wonderful adults . . . but there's a loss too and the beginning of the school year is when I feel it a little, can see that shape of it in the future, sigh.
Its hard and often exhausting to be at the center of your children's world. But in the end, its such a short amount of time and it goes by so quickly. The oldest, the eponymous 'Skandar, is in third grade now and although it hasn't happened yet, I know that soon the struggle to individuate oneself and pull away from family will begin.
The real challenge is to not to short-circuit that process by pulling away first. Some wise person, perhaps, Mary at Owlhaven, had a post about this months ago. About the need for parents to be there, and stay there, as children enter the tweens and teen years. To let them pull away as they are ready rather than jump-start the process for them. I'm not quite ready to read this book yet, but it has to go on the reading list in a year or two. Our Last Best Shot: Guiding Our Children Through Early Adolescence by Laura Stepp. The Amazon description includes this quote:
"Early adolescence is partly about loss," writes author Laura Sessions Stepp. "Parents lose their children's unquestioning adoration; kids lose their innocence, and sometimes their faith in adults."That is the challenge that lies ahead, the vague outlines are just barely visible on the horizon as school starts again.
Edited to add: It was Mary but at her Ethiopian adoption blog! She has some very wise words and a book to recommend.