Parents love their children all the time, but whether we admit it or not, most of us have a favorite age. For some parents, it’s the all-too-short newborn phase when their baby’s only desire is to be fed, changed, and cuddled close. Others adore the toddler or preschool years when their chubby-cheeked tots are delighted by dinosaurs, fairies, backhoes, and bubbles when they look adorable in footie pajamas and think mommy and daddy are superheroes.
For some parents, it’s the childhood years when their kids can finally tie their own shoes and entertain themselves for long periods, but they aren’t yet embarrassed to be seen with their mom and dad. There are even parents whose favorite time is when their kids are teenagers–young adults with their own emerging interests, ideas, and passions.
We all have our sweet spot of parenting
It might vary from parent to parent, but for most of us, there is that sweet spot — that time when we find our children to be the most fun, interesting, or accessible. It’s the stage when we pray. Don’t let me take these days for granted. Time, please slow down.
Right now, my children are 27, 25, 22, and 19, and it’s great. But the phase I’m particularly enjoying these days is the one I am in with my parents.
As a young adult, I loved hanging out with my mother and dad — becoming friends and getting to know them on a whole new level. Later, when my children were small, I loved having my parents nearby — not just because they were a tremendous help but also because it was fun seeing the joy that their grandchildren gave them.
I loved watching my parents spend time with my kids
Listening to my dad play the guitar while my mother sang Peter, Paul, and Mary songs, seeing my dad build elaborate pillow forts or my mother cuddled up with my kids to read a favorite story was like reliving some of the best parts of my childhood — only better because I was enjoying them from both an adult and the child’s perspective. Truth be told, there has been something special, something I particularly loved about every stage of parenting. And I guess that is true with my parents too.
As with my growing children, my relationship with my mother and dad has changed and developed over the years, and each phase has held something to enjoy. But what I find uniquely wonderful about now is that I have time with my parents — time free from the pressures and stresses that existed between us when I was a teenager and without the distractions I had while raising my own children.
I can spend time with my parents now without distractions
Last summer, I had coffee with my parents almost every morning — just the three of us (and our dogs) talking about nothing in particular and enjoying each other’s company without anyone interrupting us to watch them do a handstand or referee a fight. Now that summer is over and I’m back at work as a teacher, I don’t get to see my parents every day, but I see them often, and we talk on the phone almost daily.
I make spending time with them a priority because I want to and because, just as when my children were little, the fleeting sweetness of this time does not escape me.
I love that my grown kids are experiencing new relationships with my parents
I think my kids are experiencing a new and different type of relationship with my parents, too. Their grandparents are no longer their just beloved playmates, but their relationships have evolved into something deeper. As adults, each of them has found new ways to connect with their grandparents. My oldest boy has lunch with his grandfather once a week.
My daughter, who lives 10 hours away, has set my mom up on Instagram so that she can share Reels and funny memes with her. My other daughter spends time with parents going through old photos. Even the youngest, who is a busy freshman, makes an effort to keep his grandparents up to speed on college life.
My parents are in their early 80s. They are healthy and sharp, and they still have a delightful sense of humor. It is a joy, an honor, and a blessing to have these days with them. But I know it can’t last.
Eventually, the pains and sufferings of old age will rob our time together of its sweetness. Maybe I’ll have my own grandchildren, and once again, my time will be divided. But for now, I won’t take this time with my parents for granted. And I’ll take to heart the advice I am often tempted to give young mothers. I’ll enjoy every minute.
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