I would venture to say that the hardest of parenting isn't the sleepless nights. Nor is it the tantrums or sibling fights. Nor is it talks about sex, drugs, and the like. The hardest part about parenting hands down is learning to let your children go and grow into their own people apart from you while all the while giving them the support that they need to spread their wings. I know many of you aren't at this point yet in your parenting lives. Letting your kids grow into their own people is one of the most awe inspiring and equally heart breaking parts of being a mama. And that is where I am at right now. Learning to slowly let my oldest go, followed by his brother, and then his sisters.
Andy is going to be 17 years old in a couple of months. 17. I am the mother of an almost 17 year old. Because Bob and I chose to hold him back a grade when he was in public school I am fortunate enough to have him in my household for 2 more years before he spreads his wings. That's it. Two years. Do you know how fast those two years are going to go? In all honesty, Andy has always been a late bloomer. He was 11 days past his due date when he was born, showed no signs of coming out even at that late date, and had to be pulled out of me via c-section. He has lived his life in that same way. He does things in his time when he is ready. I am so thankful for that. His needs to hatch a little longer than most before he moves on to each of life's stages which has allowed me just a little bit longer with him. I will be forever thankful for that. He has applied to a couple of jobs this winter, but has not seen anything come of those applications. A job will come about for him when he is ready for a job. He has begun driving with Bob in empty parking lots in order to get comfortable with driving before he attempts to get his driving permit. It is crazy to think of him driving in a car by himself. It is crazier for me to imagine him driving in a car with himself, his brother, and their buddies. It makes me excited for them both. I can only imagine the experiences they will share together. Other than that he is getting through his school work and playing soccer on occasion with Josh as he gets himself ready to try out for the high school team this upcoming fall. He is also teaching himself how to program and code like the Dickens. I am amazed at what he has taught himself. Just amazed.
Joshua just finished up playing winter soccer with a team he was asked to join after the high school season. It wasn't a club team, but it ended up being such a positive experience for him that I am thankful that he played with the team he did instead of trying out for a club team. Their team ended up finishing in second place with a 7-1-2 record. Josh was the leading scorer on the team with 12 goals for the season. He had some amazing shots. This is the most goals he has scored in a season by a long shot, so it was exciting to watch him nail one goal after another each game. He caught the eye of a club team while playing for his non-club team this past winter and has been asked to be a guest player for a President's Cup tournament taking place in April. He has begun practicing with this new team as well. Although this is not the club team he is going to try out for in May he is still happy to have the opportunity to play soccer without too much of a break between the winter and spring seasons. Other than soccer the only other thing Josh has going on is school work and chores. As long as he is playing soccer though that is all that matters to that kid. It doesn't take much to make him happy as long as soccer is involved.
Sarah is doing amazing. She is knitting up a storm. She is making her own Barbie doll clothes now, and I am always impressed with her new designs. She is also playing the violin. She began her lessons about 6 weeks ago and can play two simple songs and is learning a third. Her teacher is impressed with her skill and her ability to adapt without vision. Sarah is making her way through contracted braille and is reading beginner books like Amelia Bedelia and Curious George in all contracted braille. She gets frustrated sometimes because she wishes she was further along in contracted braille, but I just remind her that this is the second new language she has had to master after having learned uncontracted braille. She is also teaching the kids uncontracted braille. It is nice to see her being the teacher and the other three kids being the student and learning from her. So often it seems like it is the other way around. I think that teaching them uncontracted braille helps her self confidence. Other than the above mentioned hobbies she is also moving right along in her school books.
Elizabeth is still a firecracker. That girl will always keep me on my toes. There is just no other way around it. She is gearing up for soccer to start as well. She did not play fall soccer, so this will be her first go at soccer in Oregon. I am curious to see how she does. Other than soccer and playing with a friend she has made in the neighborhood she is just hanging out at home with the other kids and getting her school work done. She is very bright in math and her ability to comprehend math concepts and make them into her own astounds me. (I think this is because I am so terrible at the subject.) Although she fights me on doing her math homework just about everyday I actually enjoy doing that subject with her because she grasps the concepts in such a unique way that I am always amazed when she comes out with a correct answer by doing the problem in her head somehow.
I think as a collective whole the kids are ready to settle down somewhere, and are not willing to put down roots here because they know that this is not a long term location. While moving around has certainly had its perks there have been some down sides as well. All of the kids miss their Ohio and New Mexico friends deeply. I think that the thought of moving away from friends they could potentially make here is just too much for them. Overall, they do not like living here at all, but all we can do until we get the next call to move again is make the most of the life we have been given/chosen. And that's just what we are trying to do.
As for me, I am trying to make the most of this time here (even though it is sometimes excruciatingly hard) because very soon, in the blink of an eye to be exact, my two year window of having everyone under my roof will be gone. Forever. Andy will be off to college and then Josh and then Sarah and then Elizabeth. Having kids so close in age was such a blessing when they were little because Bob and I were able to move through each stage: sleeping through the night, potty training, going to school (when they did that), etc...one after the other. I never put too much thought in the downside to that which is that they will leave the nest one after the other as well.
I am blessed. I truly am. I will never know what I did to deserve not one, not two, not three, but four amazing gifts. My children are the best things that have ever happened to me. They are my greatest treasure. They are where my heart is.