The Almost Empty Nester: Every Stage Has Challenges

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Every Stage Has Challenges

I just spent the week in Colorado visiting my mom and my sister and her family. My sister is married to her high school sweetheart and they have four boys. They are 23, 20, 17, and 16.

We went out to dinner with some friends and got to talking about the different phases of parenthood. Our friends shared that the baby phase wasn't their favorite, but they are enjoying the teen years with their kids. The Hubby and I said that the baby phase was tough, especially with twins, but we liked it. We don't want to do it again, but we liked it. And the teen years with our kids have been amazing. Too much fun. My brother-in-law said that he and my sister have also enjoyed each phase but that having adult children is really, really hard.

I've said before that parenthood is defined by seasons.

Each season has good and bad, and some are simply tougher than others. 

The baby phase of parenting is filled with diapers, bottles, 24/7 care of another human being, and doing it all on about 4 hours of sleep a night - if you're lucky. It has morning snuggles, baby shampoo smells, and watching kids change almost overnight.

The teen years are filled with drama (the level depending on your kids and how much they engage in it) as well as hormone changes and learning to navigate friendships and relationships. It also has nights filled with laughter as you play games around the table after dinner, talks beneath the stars of the years ahead and dreams wanting to be chased, as well as watching kids turns from kids to young adults, preparing to fly the nest.

The phase of life with adult children I haven't spent too much time in since my oldest is 19, but I ask my sister a lot about it since her oldest is 23. She says that the biggest challenge is finding balance between giving advice when it's asked for (and sometimes when it's not), and not nagging too much to where they won't want to come home and visit you. It consists of watching them make mistakes knowing they need to do so to learn life lessons, and guiding them through it as they go. It's about helping them build a life but doing so from beyond an arm's length away.

Every parenting stage has it's challenges. But it has it's moments of bliss as well.

I do know this. I wouldn't trade a moment of the journey. Watching my kids, as well as my nephews, navigate life, seek to serve God, and become awesome grown up human beings is something I will treasure forever in my Mama Heart. 

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