Isn’t it funny as parents how we wish and hope for the next stage in our kid’s lives? We think if they could just do this, life would be so much easier. We wish time away, when in reality we should be enjoying the moment we are in. I don’t know how many times I have heard parents say, “I can’t wait for my baby to start crawling.” Boy is that a mistake. Soon we all find out as parents that life was a lot less exhausting when junior staid where we put them. We didn’t have to worry about what they might get into or where they might go.
Then we wish they were out of diapers. OK, so that is a valid wish and one that I cannot find any downside too. Car seats are another thing we cannot wait for them to get out of. They are a pain, especially if you have to move them, but quickly we find out that traveling without them is not much easier and leads to more backseat fighting if you have two or more kids. Heaven help you if you are anxious to have them move to the front seat, then you can say goodbye to controlling the radio.
Driving was a huge milestone in our house and having both kids be licensed drivers was an even greater occasion. Sure it meant two more cars, more insurance and an exponential increase in gas usage, but it the benefits would outweigh the costs. Or so I thought. No more rushed early mornings for school activities, late night dashes to pick up from a dance and no early afternoon rushing to a practice on a non-school day. Life would be easier, or so I thought.
Life might be easier in a physical sense, not needing to leave the house but it did get more stressful mentally. Sure, in theory I could get more sleep because I do not have to stay up, leave the house and drive. Yes, I can go to sleep when I want too. However, I find myself watching a lot of late night TV, waiting to see the lights come down the road. Then, and only then, I can breathe a sigh of relief and go to bed. I know I do not need to stay up; rest assured the kids have told me that, I can’t help it.
Last Sunday was a prime example. It was homecoming week at school and they were kicking it off with a bonfire and movie night (no school on Monday). Both kids drove to the event because a) no one wants to be seen riding with a sibling and b) they both had plans after the event. Ike was coming home and Tatum was going to a friend’s house for the night. Instead of waiting up I decided to try going to bed at a decent hour. Soon I drifted off watching the news.
I was rousted out of a peaceful sleep by the phone ringing. A bleary look at the caller id revealed Ike’s number. Heart pounding I answered. “Dad do I have an insurance card?” I immediately heard on the other end. I explained it was in the glove box and repressed the urge to ask why until the very end. “Because the deputy asked for it, I will call and explain,” was the answer. No worry about falling asleep waiting on that call.
In a couple of minutes I got the return call. He had been pulled over and had gotten a warning. A huge wave of relief rushed over me and I decided to wait up (sleep would not come for a while now anyway) until he made it home. As soon as he pulled into the driveway, the phone rang and it was child number two. It seems as though her car would not start, but she had gotten a ride to her friend’s house. Soon I found myself watching late night TV wishing I could sleep and wondering what it will be like in those few short years when the kids are out of the house.
Experience has taught me that the next stage will bring its own unique set of benefits and worries and I guess it is just human to look forward to it. I am sure that worries about the kids will always cut into my beauty sleep just like earlier worries in earlier stages have taken a toll. One thing I have learned is to enjoy the good things about each stage and not let the challenges get too far under my skin. As I assure many new parents who are stressed over the challenges at hand, blink and it will all pass in a heartbeat.