This week entire week we have been housed up at our annual waterpark gathering in Sandusky, Ohio. For the past three years we have become annual UWG’rs and each year has been even better than the last. Our first year here it was so easy for our slightly reserved family to fly just under the radar. Well, for some of us its easier than others. I, for one, really enjoy getting out and meeting new people. But I can say that we all equally get a little emotionally inundated with large crowds. So in that sense it is very easy for our family to lay low and glide through unnoticed. That first year was much of that. We stayed the full week of the conference and really enjoyed our time. We participated in the opening keynote speaker, the carnival and a few of that talks and funshops. Mostly…. we hung in the waterpark and we had a wonderful family vacation out of the whole thing. The second time around I was feeling like we could continue to come and have a great time, ourselves….. but….. wouldn’t it be nice to meet people and actually make connections from our annual trek to OH? So that time around I told the kids and hubby that I was going to volunteer to do some of the jobs needed and make effort to meet a few people. And, encouraged them to do the same. There was some effort made last year and they became a bit more invested in the actual conference that we were there to participate in. The kids attended some funshops and we attended that year’s meet and greet for families. It was becoming more comfortable seeing familiar faces in the hallways and at the waterpark. It was really nice.
This year I decided I would make the same investment, and I noticed a huge change in my kids too. They were very comfortable with the in’s and out’s of the conference and had no hesitation in participating this week at all. I took part in more talks this time and have to say that I attended two in particular that I found very inspirational. I was jazzed by things discussed and had a few lightening bolt moments. I always find that so enlightening when you are just doing your thing and think you’re doing pretty well and then someone offers a slightly different spin, or a slightly different perspective that offers a huge boost of rejuvenation that you realize how much better you could be doing what you are doing! That has been my experience twice this week and thoroughly enjoyed my time here.
This evening has been one of also the many moments of parental trepidation I have had this week too. This week has been a growth experience for me as a mama and for my kids as older kids. They have a few friends here from Chicago which is so great for them and their comfortability. But also they have recognized acquaintances they have made in the years past as well. They have had ventures all over the waterpark on their own (with friends, but without parents). We have seen them handle responsibility quite superbly as well. A basic “please check in every once in awhile” has given them the glory of exploring the world with friends, and showing us just how respectful they can be with that trust. I have been super impressed as they have not ever requested such responsibility. I doubted when this moment would ever come in fact : ) There are times when my oldest will (still) ask me to toast his waffles in the mornings and I wonder if he’ll ever cross the street on his own! So to see this spurt in development is both exciting and completely terrifying for me as a mama.
So at the family dance party this evening several of us lost steam before 11pm. We were quite ready to turn in and K really really wanted to stay with his friends. He’s turning 10 in just less than two months from now, so with much trepidation I told him that he could stay with his friends and walk back to our room on his own. I gave him a curfew!!! Yikes. I could not believe this was happening as I was doing it. He challenged me on the idea of “why not?” and all I could think of was, “yeah, well why not?!” He’s never shown me that he can’t handle responsibility of this nature, and he’s never asked for it either. If anything, he is the worry-wart in most every situation (even more so than his mother at times! ; ) . So having a trusty wristwatch on hand we agreed to a 1 hour curfew and off he ran with his buddies.
We wandered back to the room and slowly got everyone ready and into bed. I saw SBJ’s trepidation set in as well : ) He was saying to D that he was going to go down and get K in a little bit. I bellowed from the bedroom, “you let him try this! I want to see how he handles this.” He had to chuckle b/c he knew he was being more of a worry-wart than I was this time around. The hour flew by quickly and just about 5-10 minutes before midnight… a knock-at-the-door! There he was with a big grin on his face. He had a blast, played with some new people, enjoyed the dance and the music, and even played some zombie tag. Wow….. what a change. I’m very proud of him (and me for that matter : ) It was a brand new experience for us all and it unfolded quite naturally and comfortably.
I think there are times that I worry about being a mother to older children! I am so used to being around little kids. I have always nannied (since I was 12 years old!) for *little* kids! I have not been with kids over the age of say…. 7-8 years old. And now a few of my kiddos are reaching beyond that point, and I am becoming an older, hopefully wiser, mom. BUT…. feeling like time has not changed for me personally at the same time this is going on. I wonder (often) how to grasp the concept of my children being teenagers, being young adults and moving out, and even adults, marriage and grandkids. (That’s a whole other part of my personal aging to contend with!) But it’s a weird limbo feeling. Sometimes I get this feeling…. “WOAH! I’m the mother to 4 kiddos! How did that happen so quickly!?” And other times, I have this epiphany like this evening, “we CAN do it! Growing up is not that painful as people say!” ; ) It’s really quite enjoyable, this journey of motherhood. It has it’s rocky parts of course, but when your relationships can be built on a sound foundation the journey has less rocks on the road, and more smoother pavement. It doesn’t always feel like an up-hill climb. It can, and often does, feel like I am flying downhill with my hands off of the handlebars. This process of not only growing up myself, but also trying to become a better mom day-by-day AND deschooling my brain in the process, WHILE watching my kids grow up faster than a blink of my eye…. well…. that’s just a plain-old balancing act. But certainly one worth figuring out and enjoying every step of the way!