Golden Age of Parenting

Tonight, I find myself thinking that I’m in the tail end of what has been an all-too-brief Golden Age of Parenting.

At this moment, tonight, none of my children drive yet. All of them can read. They are largely capable of seeing to their own physical needs. They are all able to forage for food (a necessary life skill, in my opinion) and cook to varying degrees of competence. We can leave them alone and go out together. We can take them out to eat and know that they’ll all order from the menu on their own and manage to behave in a restaurant and participate in conversations. I can leave them unsupervised and know that they will, mostly, behave themselves. They are capable of entertaining themselves and each other for long periods of time.

The beauty of having four children so close together has been that I get these brief periods of having them all in one stage at the same time. This stage–this stage where they are still mostly disconnected from the online world, where none of them yet engage in a lot of activities where they can get into serious trouble, where all of them have become rather independent and trustworthy–has been a really Golden Age.

But I see the end coming, and it’s bittersweet. Boy Patriot is more and more interested in hanging out with friends–and especially friends of the opposite sex! He’s anxious to get his driver’s permit when he turns 15, and he’s already thinking about buying a car. He’s online quite a bit these days as it’s required for school, and while we have restrictions and guidelines and a system for checking on his online activity, we still have to face that we have less and less control over what he sees and hears.

At the same time, Lucy has friends over for a slumber party as I type this, and there’s still a sense of sweetness and innocence in these budding young ladies who simultaneously want to play on the Wii, paint their fingernails, and watch Monsters University. This phase is so sweet and too short. In a few years, it will be this group of young ladies who want to go out with a group of friends, who want to drive, who are thinking of saving for a car.

I suppose by then, I’ll be concerned with other things–college, boyfriends/girlfriends, careers, and who knows what else?

I know that every stage of parenting has its joys and griefs. And I know that I do look forward to that time when all of the kids are grown and married and raising families of their own. I think I will be an outstanding grandmother.

But I think I will miss this period of parenting quite a bit.

Don’t discount the beauty of these in-between years–these years when kids are independent, but not too independent. Babies, teens, grown children–all of them have their pluses and minuses.

But this period is really the Golden Age of Parenting.