Some say that being a parent is for life. Some say that the time we have with our children is too short. Could both statements be true?
Our children may live under our roof for about 18 years, but this doesn't mean that they are with us for all 18 years. They depend on us significantly for the first 10 years or so. Then, gradually, they learn to become more independent.
By the time they are 13 or 14, they are doing most of their activities independently. By 16, they are driving or otherwise out of the house most of the day. Their 18th birthday marks legal adulthood in most countries. So it is not really an 18-year long project after all. In reality, it is more like 10-12 years + a transition of about 5 years.
I know, some days feel like time stops and that the day or even phase will never end. Terrible-twos ring a bell?
Some phases are so intense months feel like a second and you are left wondering what just happened and where did this time go.
Time is tricky this way, especially when parenting.
Children grow in phases. Each phase changes our lives and has its ups and downs.
If we think about our children's time with us in terms of phases and not years, we only get them once as infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
The day they walk into 1st grade is the day they start spreading their wings. We gradually see less and less of them as their days fill up with activities and friends. By the time they are in middle school, they are ready to spread their wings. Before we know it, they are gone.
True, they never leave 100%, and they will always find a reason to depend on us in some way or another for the rest of our lives. It is true that parenting is for life, but these 18 years that we think we have our children full time are probably the fastest 18 years in our lives.
The time we have with our children is precious and we only get them in each phase once. Let's make the most of it.