Now that my children are all close to being teens (the youngest is 12), it has come to my attention that numerous enjoyable activities are no longer possible. What follows is a partial list of things that don't work any more.
Creating an adventure out of errands. "Hey---let's all get our shoes on and go to Walgreens. I tell you what: I'll give you each a dollar to spend however you like."
Receiving special attention based on the presence of cute little children. "Let me help you with that, honey. How old is the baby? No-you go ahead; I'll clean that up."
Having an excuse for career inertia. "Well, actually, at the moment, most of my energy is going into my little ones. You're right-I really do have my hands full."
Having someone to play with. "Sure, I'll be the dragon again. Then let's make cookies, OK?" I tried that on my children the other day, when I was bored. They did not want to make cookies. Nor did they want to read books. They were busy. I was lonely.
What were we doing before all this business with children began? Oh yeah, we were-oh, excuse me, it's my son calling me on my cell phone. I'll be right back.
So, anyway. It's not that I want to pick up exactly where I ... sorry, is that really the time? I've got to run to pick up my daughter. I'll be right back.
Let's see. Oh! My career. Well, I've kept things going on a part-time ... Ohmigod! The store closes in 45 minutes and I've got to get nacho cheese dip for her Spanish class party before tomorrow morning.
Back again. Uhhh ... I admit that it's nice to have more freedom, now that the children are more independent. It's just that I don't have very long stretches of it at one time, what with constantly driving around town in circles, dropping everyone off and then picking them up again.
But there are other benefits to having older children. Like being more available to other adults, and having something to talk about other than children. Except I don't know where all my old friends went. I was just gone for 17 years. Where is everybody?
This newly found "free" time has given me time to reflect on more things I miss.
Taking walks. For years I walked back and forth to the elementary school four times a day, including fetching offspring for lunch. The dog liked it, too. Now we never walk. "Are you kidding, Mom? I'm already late. Plus I have too much to carry."
Being confided in. Who would have thought I would think back fondly on being held captive in our hall, listening with rapt (although faux) attention to my son describe in minute detail the powers of his favorite superhero?
Fortunately, my children are fabulous. They make me laugh. They give me hugs. They dance and do slow-motion fighting with me. But they just keep getting older.
I guess we all do, right?
Kristin Gehring is the calendar editor for Wednesday Journal, the parent company of Chicago Parent, and mother of three kids.