When my kids were babies it was easy for me to see the world as though it wore a halo, blessedsimply because now my babies were in it. The world was beautiful, life was beautiful, and every day was an opportunity to wonder. Babies and young children have a tendency to bring out the romantic in their parents. All of a sudden everything feels more important when your child occupies precious space on the earth.
There are few people who are privileged to maintain that perspective of awe as their kids grow. Not that parents of school age children or adolescents never wonder at their children, but it seems the romanticism falls away with each passing year. Or perhaps we only talk about it less. Maybe it’s not as socially acceptable to publicly wax poetic about your twelve-year-old’s smooth cheeks or perfect fingers and toes, but as I watch my own kids grow I wonder if it’s only that parents learn to keep the awe under wraps.
It’s true that my all-consuming interest in all things and only things connected to my children has faded. There was a time I would put my kids to bed and then spend the evening reviewing our day in pictures and story-telling because why live it only once when re-living it brought twice the joy? Now that drive to re-live each day has lost some of its luster. But as our kids grow and begin to find their own individual ways in the world, we as parents have the opportunity to become more independent too. We like to talk about our kids needing us and how tough it can be for them to branch out, but I know we need our kids as much as they need us. We need different things; perhaps we have developed the skills to cope more gracefully when the needs are not fulfilled, but we need them nonetheless.
I recognize this each time I peek in on my kids before I head to bed at night. My kids are kids now—not even little kids anymore, just plain old kids. And it’s not quite true that when I look at them I still see my babies. I don’t really—there’s no mistaking them for babies. But what I do see is that they are mine. They are as mine now as they were the miraculous day they were born, the life-altering weeks that followed, and the years of awe and wonder since. Those kids are mine and they are beautiful. I still look in their eyes sometimes and literally lose my breath at their beauty; I still tear up when they grasp my hand or kiss my cheek. They are not babies anymore, but they fill the world now just as full as they did once upon a time, and I see the world differently because I get to be their mother.
Wonder. Awe. Beauty. Thankfully I have come to understand that these are for the parents of kids and tweens and teens and young adults as much as they’re for the parents of newborns. Let us never forget that wonder is for any age because at every age these kids—yours and mine—are ours, and they never stop being so.
What a beautiful thing that is.