Spend time with me!

Sometimes I look at my daughter and I see the teenager she will someday be. It isn’t a clear picture—I have no idea what she’ll actually look like, and I have a very hard time picturing her taller than me—but I sometimes envision a teenage girl who will want nothing to do with me. My future daughter will find everything I say to be completely wrong, and she will spend all of her waking moments—when not in school—in her room talking to friends or on the computer. Life with my daughter as I know it will have come to an end, and she will no longer want me around. This is my fear, and something that I sadly believe will more than likely come to pass. Because of my absolute phobia of the teen years, I have sometimes taken a possibly odd tack when it comes to parenting her. It may sounds strange, but I tell her about my fears, not in a “please don’t do this to me” kind of way, but in more of a questioning sort of way, like “When you are older, are you going to make me walk 10 feet behind you at the mall?” She usually laughs at my questions, and I smile inside knowing that she finds the idea of it somehow difficult to imagine. Part of me is just trying to prepare myself for the inevitable, while the other part of me prays that by telling her how she’ll behave, she somehow won’t do it just to prove me wrong.

Up until my daughter was about ten—maybe a year ago or so,—I had a nighttime rule that the living room became a “child-free” zone at 8:oo pm. I didn’t mind it if the kids stayed up watching television in their rooms, but I desperately needed some time to myself—my husband didn’t get home from work until about 10:00 each night—and I would look forward to an hour or two without anyone asking me for anything. Even with that rule in place, there were many nights when my daughter desperately wanted to stay up with me, wanting to watch something that I would otherwise have DVR’d for us to see the next day. She would come into the living room and ask me if she could spend time with me. I was adamant about my “alone time,” so I would say no, and she would slowly drag herself back to her room. If either of the kids came out a second time, then the threats would start: “If you come out once more, tomorrow night you’ll be going to bed at 7:00!” It usually worked, and the rest of the evening would go by quietly.

I will be honest, I didn’t feel guilty about sending her away, I know that the quiet helped me regenerate my burned out body and mind for the next day’s work, and to prepare for life in general.

This is how life used to be.

One night, maybe a year ago, I was about to send her to bed when I looked at her—I mean really looked at her—she had changed so much. She was growing so fast, and it suddenly occurred to me that the teenager I feared was closer than I had realized. At that moment, what I wanted more than anything in the world was to hold onto her youth, her sweetness, and her desire to be with me. So, I have given up my time to myself in favor of watching television with her in the evenings, listening to her insightful commentaries, and laughing at her occasional interpretive dance to the songs in commercials. Each evening I am thankful that I have been given one more night with her in which she still wants to spend time with me.

My advice to my daughter is to recognize the times in her life that are fleeting—those moments that will eventually end—and to cherish them, enjoy them, and most of all to not be afraid of them coming to an end, as ultimately they will become a part of her.

Published by Erin Rehill

A few years ago, my then eight-year-old daughter told me that she wished I could write down all the things I told her so that she wouldn’t forget them when she got older. In that moment, my daughter gave me such a sense of validation, something I hadn’t really experienced in that way. As parents, we don’t often receive confirmation from our children that we are doing a good job, or that we even know what we are talking about. Since that time, I’ve started to pay more attention to the things I tell her, often thinking to myself “Will she remember this when she is older?” So, this is for her, my words of advice to be read, thought about, laughed at, and maybe even used, when she is older.

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  1. Can totally relate to this entry even though we are five years behind you. Brought tears to my eyes!

  2. Your post brought tears to my eyes. I cannot even begin to imagine (even though I always do) the day my kids will go off to college. My husband tells me to enjoy the noise now, because some day I will just hear silence and I will miss them terribly.

    I spent all my summer holidays with my maternal grandmother, who showered me with love and attention. Long after I stopped being a child, I looked forward to spending time with her and never saw this as a burden. When you spend time with your children when they’re young, they will want to spend time with you when you (and they) are older.

    Stopping by from #commenthour.

  3. This is a beautiful post! My boys are still so young, and I don’t want to think of the days when they will be more interested in their friends/sports/girlfriends/etc. than in me!

    (Stopping by from SITS)

  4. we’re having SO much trouble with the Boy at bed time lately; he just keeps getting up and causing trouble! gaah! lights out at 8pm for him, he needs his sleep, and we need our quiet time!

  5. Really great post. I don’t have kids yet but the lesson I’ve learned from your post is not to be afraid to change the rules and priorities in life. When your kids were younger it was important and neede to be a priority to have your down time. It probably made you a better mom. Now that they are getting older the priority and circumstances have changed and now the quality time you guys spend together will probably help her stay closer to you as a teenager.

    Thanks for stopping by Flashback Friday 🙂

  6. My son isn’t a year old and already he is growing faster than I want! I want him to stay my baby forever, but I know he won’t. And as much as I love all his changes and new mile stones, it reminds me that he will grow up way too fast!

    Some good advice I got when he was born was: to not rush any moment, to not wish away anything, even the sleepless nights because they would be over sooner than I realized.
    That was good advice, as is yours.

    Thank your for reminding me to cherish each moment while I have them.
    I agree that some “alone time” helps us to be better moms, but we also need reminders that they grow up too fast.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and fears!

  7. What a beautiful reminder. I realise the kids grow up too fast and I often tell myself to always pause to spend time with them. They are only that age once in their lives.

  8. So beautiful and so true. We’ll have more alone time than we know what to do with ourselves when the kids leave the nest (or just don’t want to hang out with us anymore) – best treasure the times when they still like us! 🙂

  9. I’m glad you gave up your time to spend time with her… I understand wanting your quiet but I try to remind myself that at some point I’ll want the noise. It’s a constant give and take, good job for recognizing the now!

    Good luck with Lovelinks!

  10. I really love this. I feel this, too. My older daughter is 9 and my older son is 12. Those teen years are coming so soon, and for all the ‘needs’ I have of some alone and recharge time, I know (though don’t always heed this) that I really need to be available to them NOW so that they know I am available to them then… even if they think they don’t need me. Wow… lots of ‘needs’ and ‘knows’ in this comment… but I know you get it… after all, you wrote this lovely post 🙂 Thanks for putting so beautifully to words some of the challenging thoughts and feelings I myself have been having 🙂

    1. Wow, I loved your comment—I’ve read it a couple of times. I think the word “need” is such an important one. It is so important for our children to know that we will always be here when they need us. Thank you!

  11. I have a 10-year-old and I can totally relate to how fleeting it all is.
    I have to say though – I have a teen phobia too – but when I was living in Ireland I remember being shocked when a friend’s teenaged son happily served us appetizers and had a smile on his face and spoke with us like he was really happy to be there – we were all adults – when I told his dad how shocked I was, his dad’s reply was, “What did you expect?” – and then we had a long talk about how in America, people “expect” teenagers to be sullen, moody and withdrawn isolationists…anyway, gave me some real food for thought, i.e., what do I expect my daughter to become when she is a teen? If I think she’s probably going to be awful (like I was) – well then, she might just be…but if I expect her to continue to be the lovely, social being she is – she just might be that, too. (-:

    1. I think you raise a really good point. I’ll do ANYTHING to have my children stay how they are now—joyful, loving, affection, excited. I will take your words to heart! Thanks for the comment!

  12. My son is hitting his teen years and I too have stepped back and just thought “who and what will you become” it is a pretty surreal moment. My daughter is only 4 but I have thought about it. Seems already there is something a little different about my daughter vs my sons becoming teens! Thank you for sharing. I am here from Lovelinks. Good Luck this week!

    1. It’s an incredible thing to look at your children and to have a flash of realization that someday they will be “real people.” It’s an exciting, and frightening, journey to be on. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment, and your well-wishes with the contest!

  13. I love your blog. I love the advice you give. You blend it beautifully with your presentation of a story or a moment that you’ve experienced. Love it.

  14. Sometimes I’ll do the same thing with my kids. It’s those things like letting them stay up past bedtime just for a little quality time alone with you that they’ll remember when they’re older. It somehow helps me to reaffirm my choices as their parent too, you know?

    1. I completely agree. I especially love getting alone time with each of them separately. It makes them know that they have my undivided attention. I only have two, how do you do it?!

  15. I was thinking about this today. How I just want to stop every teenager and encourage them to SLOW down and enjoy these years. I’m so glad you took the time to really look at her.

    1. I couldn’t agree more. I think children should enjoy their time being children. It may feel like it lasts forever, but it is just a blip in their overall lives. I try to tell my daughter that all the time. Thanks so much for the comment!

    1. Yes, let them cling! I dread when my son won’t want to cuddle with me anymore. He’s seven, and will still curl up in my lap. I’ll take it for as long as I can get it! Thanks for stopping by and for leaving such a sweet comment.

  16. I have craved time alone for a long time and have set a ‘not right now’ zone myself. But, over the years the half hour, often stretching to an hour or more, after dinner became a time for just me and my daughters to talk. The times when I said I had to go and they answered, ‘no, we aren’t done talking yet’, are some of the sweetest moments in my life. They are a whole lot quieter now that I’m down to only one at home. You are right to cherish, don’t let it slip away : )

    1. Thank you for your comment—especially coming at the other end of the spectrum. I hope that I, too, can look back on these years with joy that we spent so much time together.

  17. This is so beautifully written. I can completely relate to that fear of losing my daughter to the teenage years, the wish for alone time, the realization that someday I will wish I had spent more time with her and less alone time, yet knowing that I need the alone time as much as I need to cherish the time with her.

    1. It’s such a struggle to find balance. I probably stay up a little too late just so I can still have some time without anyone talking to me, or wanting anything from me. I still cringe at the idea that she won’t want to be with me anymore, and everyday that goes by in which she still wants me is such a blessing. Thanks so much for the thoughtful comment!

  18. My son is only 9 months old but I already start to feel sad about the years when he no longer wants his snuggle time. It’s true, they grow so fast!

    Happy SITS Day!

  19. Your post brought tears to my eyes…I have 3 young daughters and the oldest is 8. I work with 2 yr olds during the days so my kid free zone rule applies too…and I can empathize. But I’ve been starting to think like you lately, these moments are fleeting..and precious…thanks for your words of wisdom

  20. Very sweet post. My daughter turned one on Monday but I have the same fears as you and everytime I realize she is bigger, my fear that she one day “won’t need me” gets bigger and bigger. Thanks for reminding me to treasure her while I’ve got her 🙂

  21. This was a wonderful post. I remember when I thought “Time is flying by too quickly” – then it flew. But I can say that my son and I have an even more precious relationshjip now (he’s 29). Sure, we can’t cuddle on the couch and he doesn’t need me to read to him anymore – but believe it or not, it gets richer and more precious as they grow up. We didn’t even have too many angst-driven teen moments (thank God)! I suspect you won’t either. Visiting from SITS a bit late!

  22. Wonderful post. I took a look at my 2 year old this morning and panicked when I realized that he is growing up so fast! He has opinions, preferences, and he already won’t let me kiss him in public! Where did my baby go?

  23. Thanks for your post. A friend once told me to value each day by thinking of at least one good thing (or more) from the day before you go to sleep. Then as the years fly by, you will remember that you cherished the good things.
    Hannah P.S.
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