Things are changing…the Sweeney family used to travel in a pack – the five of us were together much of the time for the last 7-8 years when my husband began his sales job and had a home office. We just seemed to do almost everything together. Out of the mini-van we all came- sometimes with a dog or two in tow. We spent hours and hours at each kids sports events- each sibling rooting the other on. (or doing a puzzle-but we were all there)…We had dinners together regularly, we vacationed together, we were at WalMart together, the shoe Store, Kohls, TJ Maxx, we all showed up to friends get- togethers. We were unit. We were together so much and probably my hubby and I did not take enough date nights together. But we traded that for good conversation with our kids – and I suppose sometimes not so good conversations. My boys were best-friends playing together for hours together. Now it makes me happy if they hang out in each others company without fighting every 5 minutes. Its not the same these days.
Over the last few year our eldest child – our daughter- began doing a few more things on her own : more sleep-overs, more church events, just more stuff that didn’t include all of us. Then the boys followed suit with their own stuff. This week I find myself home with my two boys-my mom is visiting for the week – my daughter is in Florida for a week visiting my dad and his wife. My husband is in Chicago on business. One day after my daughter arrives home this week she is off again on a church mission trip for another full week – then she gets back and her practices begin for Field Hockey and both my boys are going to go out for different sports this year- a first since they were very young. As I was driving to pick up one son from soccer camp i realized I am getting glimpse into our future – where we are living our own lives- meeting for a few hours to try to reconnect as we head back out. It’s not a shock – it just came pretty fast is all. One day we were a unit and together so much- and on occasions (many) we drove each other nuts – but the next day my kids are flying alone to Florida. Wow…
I am proud of my kids and their walk into adulthood. I miss their littleness but I like this time too. It is when you really see if anything you have tried to teach them is coming to fruition. They are making new friends, going to new schools, circumventing those tough teen years and trying to figure out who they are or who they want to be. Its a hard time for them but can also be a wonderful time too. Floating between child and adult- learning how to make choices – sometimes big ones that can effect their entire life.
My role as a parent has changed quite a bit. I am there to help guide and set boundaries. To encourage and to help lift them up when they make mistakes – but to also help them learn from them. Its much different than raising them and telling them stop hitting, use inside voices (though this still comes up!), wipe feet- nose – mouth etc.
So times have changed- they are home less – and when here doing more of their own stuff..maybe not emerging during the day except for meals – or not being home at all. How do we stay connected? I suppose my husband and i need time to connect with them more than they think they need it with us. I have decided that i am not going to get quantity time anymore. So it has to be quality time.
While they are gone they can connect with us through the phone- I bet every parent i know has a love/hate relationship with their kids cell phones. But I am so glad my daughter has a phone with her in Florida – she shares photos and calls and texts us regularly. I am seeing this is something she needs too as we did not set any expectations when she boarded that plane to Florida. We just hoped she would miss us- a little. When we are all home again at the end of the week we will have very little time where we will all be together again — one day only — maybe we can carve out a few hours (or one) to sit together to eat and reconnect before each one takes off again.
We will get better at ( and more used to) this juggling act I am sure. This is the life with teens. They need to fly off and make their own lives and they need to come home again to a place where they are welcome, and the world is familiar and they are loved. So my goal is quality time – not quantity- it makes me mindful to pick my battles and to make sure our time is used wisely. There will be slip ups because i am super-impatient and will probably pounce on a returning kid from time to time yelling at them to get this or that done before they head out again – (its all about delivery I am learning)… but I hope in the long run my kids will someday know how much they are loved and will remember to reconnect with us and their siblings as often as they can. We built this family to support each other and to love each other and to be there for each other when it might seem nobody else is.
Thanks for reading…