I loved having a house full of kids. They weren't all mine but I loved them nonetheless.
Their energy was infectious. Yes, it is so true that you change when you become a mother. And, it's not simply that you bore everyone to tears with photos of your darling's every expression and milestone.
Some of the changes that I remember when my daughter was younger include:
1. Being in my kitchen with five teenage girls: 5 girls lounging on comfy chairs, 4 comparing stories, 3 having snacks, 2 talking to me, and 1 deciding whether or not to change her outfit. I loved every minute of their company. After all, they had chosen my house to unwind at.
2. Shopping in any store and hearing someone say "ma" and quickly turning to see if that child was referring to me. Hmm. Guess, there is more than one child who refers to their mother as "ma" especially when they spot something that they may want you to purchase. I was always sort of hoping that I was the "ma" of the moment.
3. When I was grocery shopping I would always think about what I needed to have in my refrigerator if hungry teens came over. Both my shopping cart and refrigerator were so much fuller back then. I felt like Santa Claus buying stocking stuffers.
4. I was always ready to get up in the middle of the night if there was a sleepover at my house and one of the girls wanted to talk,had a headache, or just simply couldn't sleep.I just loved nurturing.
5. I always felt so necessary and important signing permission slips and school forms. It was such a great feeling.
Now that my delicious teen is out of the house there are some things that I miss so much. Don't worry,though, I still show photos to trapped individuals who I barely know.
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1. I miss the laughter, the confusion, and the conversation even if it temporarily went awry. The silence that has taken its place is nothing like the noisy excitement.
2. I miss hearing the teens talking about their insights and philosophies and all kinds of things about life that were new and exciting to them. These conversations reminded me of when I was in college and we would stay up all night talking about all things important.
3. I feel a little less important now. There aren't groups of kids counting on me to pick up Blockbuster movies, pizza, and beverages.
4. I never thought that I would say this but I miss the sound of the garage door closing and feeling the sense of relief that I felt when my child was safely home. Somewhere in another state she is arriving safely home (please!) but I'm not there to hear the door shut.
5. And mostly, I miss saying good night to my child and sometimes her friends who were tucked in for the night and seemed so warm and cozy.
The moral of this story is to be careful what you wish for. Yes, they will grow up and leave home but you are very likely to miss their energy.
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Barbara Greenberg and Jennifer Powell-Lunder are authors of the hit book, "Teenage as a Second Language: A Parent's Guide to Becoming Bilingual." They've set up an interactive website for parents and teens to listen, learn and discuss hot topics and daily dilemmas. You can find it at www.talkingteenage.com.