Lately I've been realizing that some of the challenges (joys, tensions, giggles) at our house consist in the fact that we're all in our "middle years."
The sweet girl (aka Jedi Teen) is in the "middle years" between childhood and adulthood -- never an easy road to travel.
Her dad and I are in our middle years, period. Which turns out aren't the easiest road to travel either, bringing with them new aches and pains, different kinds of questions about our lives and what we've done/still want to do with them, and other issues we hadn't thought about very much before they got here, like the challenges of watching and accompanying our parents as they age.
Now don't get me wrong: both sets of middle years have their blessings and compensations. The sweet girl would likely tell you she enjoys newfound freedoms and enthusiasms, and in some ways, that's true for us in our middle years too.
But sometimes the different kinds of middle years collide head on, and then the fireworks can fly! Sometimes it makes me laugh.
I know that part of the challenge for me is that I am slow to keep up with changes of any sort these days, and my daughter is just full of them -- she is a walking, talking, laughing, long-legged dancing, eye-rolling, hollering, crying, giggling ball of change most days. This slow middle-years mama (who feels like it was just yesterday she was teaching this adolescent dynamo-who-is-taller-than-she-is how to tie her shoes) sometimes just stands there in awe while she watches that dynamo practice her slip jig for Irish dance class.
I suspect, though I don't know, that parents of more than one child get to ease into all this change a little more gradually. Because there is some space between children, they get to keep experiencing one stage of life with one child while another leaps ahead into the next. I've seen this with friends who have kids at multi-ages and stages, and sometimes I am a little wistful about it. Maybe I would deal better with the swift progressions of adolescence if I was still cutting crusts off sandwiches and reading Eric Carle to an up-and-coming sibling. But that's not our experience nor our particular blessing (though I am grateful I still get the chance to spend time and work with younger kids in other venues, even if not here at home).
Still, I think I need to remind myself from time to time to relax and laugh a little more about the middle years. These too shall pass. And probably far too swiftly.