Sometimes you’re so entrenched in the work of parenting that you forget you’re working yourself out of the job.
I’ll always be a mom, of course, but every night that I tuck in my children, I’m one night closer to being out of the raising-children business. With my babies now 339 months and 124 months (otherwise known as 14 and 10), I’m well past the midpoint of the heavy lifting of child rearing.
It’s been years since I stocked no-tears shampoo in the bathroom cabinet. Sippy cups are long gone. I have no idea about the latest technology in disposable diapers or baby wipe warmers (are those even still popular?) or jogging strollers.
Yet I’m still firmly rooted in the business of raising my children, so much so that it’s easy to forget that the days are waning.
Most schooldays, Cooper beats me home. He rides his bike from school and settles in to his homework routine. By the time I walk in the back door, he’s at the kitchen table, studying classical civilizations or irregular Spanish verbs or mitochondria.
Before I can even set my purse on the barstool, he asks, “Momma, how was your day?”
Not, “Momma, I’m hungry.” Or, “Hey, I need to tell you something.” Nope, he welcomes me home with maturity that sometimes takes me off guard — until I remember he’s four years from college. My time as his everyday mentor is running low. We’ve got more — so much more — to cover, but that daily greeting reminds me he’s moving in the right direction.
Now there’s evidence that he’s starting to realize what exactly he’s moving toward. He’s increasingly aware of the world beyond our sheltered home.
I’ve had a little hip pain — nothing serious but enough to make me grumble a couple of times.
“Why don’t you go to the doctor?” my reasonable son asked this week.
I think it’s muscular, I answered, and I want to work on some stretches on my own before I go to the doctor and incur who-knows-how-much in expenses.
“Don’t we have insurance?” Cooper asked.
Yes, I explained, but we have a high deductible, which means I pay 100 percent of costs for everything until we hit a certain amount, and then we pay a percentage of the costs.
“And we don’t want to hit the deductible,” I told him, “because that means one of us has had an accident or needs surgery or something catastrophic has happened.”
I told him how much premiums cost each month and how many hours I work to earn that money, and then I threw in a few estimates for office visits and diagnostic tests. I explained that we, of course, seek treatment when we need it, but it’s also important to be a wise consumer.
He was silent for a moment. Then he crossed the room, wrapped his arms around me and said, “It’s hard to be an adult.”
I hugged him right back, silently agreeing and soaking up the gesture of empathy.
He broke free and looked me in the eye. “So, how long can I stay on your insurance?”
Wise question, young man. You’ve got another 12 years if you need it. Soak it up. That time’s guaranteed to fly by.
Tyra Damm is a Briefing columnist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.