Every stage of my life as a parent brings new experiences. It's like a new show starts. Lights, camera, action!
Set the stage.
I remember the baby stage. I thought I would never sleep again. All I cared about was a nap. I remember asking for one for my birthday. 3 hours of sleep time. It was the greatest gift ever.
Then the next stage hit - the one where I just wanted to be able to sit down. I call that the chaser stage. Kids running. All the time. Please sit down. Please get tired. Mommy can't move anymore!
Then, before you can blink your eyes they are off to school. Independence stage. That stage was conflicting. I missed them, but I was also happy to have some time back to myself. Freedom that came with a side plate of guilt. The first experience of letting go.
The stages go on and on. Like acts in the play of life.
My current stage is an interesting one too. This year I will officially have a 16 year old and a 13 year old. Two teenagers! How did this happen? This is the stage where you really start preparing your kids and yourself for the future. That fine line between wanting to hold on and knowing that you can't fight their independence forever. You may get to sleep in, but you can't send anyone to bed at 8 anymore! You worry about different things. Friends become more and more important and sometimes you feel forgotten as a parent. Emotions can run high and there is never a dull moment. But you take the moments that you have and you pour everything into them because you know that the time you have left to influence is growing smaller and the greatest years of influence are behind you and not before you.
There is a shift in the stage. You're not so much the director/producer anymore. Your take a more supportive role. They start to star in their own lives.
But here is the great thing. Family never ends. When the kids leave the house, you are still their parents. You still care. Your lives are forever intertwined. Your influence lessens, but your love never stops. Parenting is forever. Stages continue. You still have a voice, even though it changes and evolves over time. It's the most important role that you will play in your life. Your role affects generations to come. Your investment lives on through their lives.
That's why it needs so much care. That's why we need God's wisdom at each stage. That's why even in the hard times we press on, because it is just worth it. In every way.
I'm learning to love the stages, to embrace the new and to deposit whatever love and care and influence I can. I'm learning that what my kids need from me is always going to change. But I've made the commitment to be the best parent that they need, at whatever stage they are in. Playing whatever role I need to in their lives.
Always helping set the stage.