Pre-Order So God Made a Mother

Remember reading the What to Expect books? I carefully read every page of What to Expect When You’re Expecting, and I browsed through What to Expect the First Year. There are other books in this series, but one I personally think would make a very helpful and reassuring addition is “What to Expect the Big Kid Years.” To give you an idea of what I’d hope would be included in that book, I’d like to share some of what I didn’t expect about this big kid season.

To start, I never expected to love these years as much as I do! I was always in love with the baby and little-one stages. The cuddly sweetness, the pure love, the wonder. I kind of always worried about the big kid (and beyond) years and not having the precious closeness anymore.

RELATED: Gone are the Precious Days of Babyhood

But you know what? There’s an even deeper connection now. As our sweet littles grow into bigs, they become their own, amazing humans. We begin to see their souls, who they are meant to be. Our relationships with them evolve with this process, almost unbeknownst to us.

Until one day we realize, Hey, I really like you! Not just love, but genuinely and deeply like.

I adore the new facets of my relationship with both my daughter and son, from the thought-provoking conversations we have to the fun we have togetherlike coffee dates, Target adventures, late-night Taco Bell runs, watching favorite shows that have become our shows, taking little trips together, etc.

But extra surprising was the discovery that our teens and young adults start to appreciate us on an entirely new and deeper level. When they start to see us as more than parents, they get to know us as the people we are. They ask more questionsabout what we did, how we thought, how we felt about various issues, about when we were teens or young adults before we became their mom or dad. New bonds are built and we have the opportunity to forge the most beautiful friendships with our children.

RELATED: This is What Loving a Big Kid Looks Like

If we’re lucky, they begin to clearly see the meaningfulness of all we gave as parents, and not in the material sense. Two unexpected gifts I received from my college kids came in grateful words they shared with me. Words that filled my heart and soul with indescribable joy and sense of blessing. A message from my daughter, “You are the most important person to me.” A text from my son, “I’m really happy that you were a stay at home mom. And that you’ve always been here for me.” Wow.

These are the kinds of feelings our little ones can’t experience on the same deep level that our big kids can.

Of course, we are important to our babies and littles, but it is more in a you’re my world right now and I rely on you to survive way. From our nearly grown children, these feelings are far more complex. These sentiments have been nurtured and expanded with years of love, talking, sharing, guiding, listening, and more. So the powerful love and gratitude they impart are even stronger.

Another unexpected treasure is the realization of just how much our big kids can teach us. Yes, we start learning from our children from the moment they are born. They reshape who we are and help us discover our hidden potential. As teens and young adults who really know us, they can offer us insights, solutions, and support from a unique and valuable perspective. They are actively learning at this stage of their lives, and they contribute to stimulating discussions and inspiring conversations.

RELATED: I Miss My Babies, But Who They’ve Grown Up To Be is Pretty Great Too

There is something exquisite in receiving comfort or guidance from your own child. When they help you to look at something from an entirely fresh perspective, but what they offer resonates effortlesslymaybe because it comes with unique wisdom and love from cherished humans who came from you.

I also never expected to still worry so much about my kids.

To feel in my body and soul when they’re experiencing hardship, sadness, struggle, stress, or illness. And to lose sleep much like I did when they were babies or little ones even though there’s not much I can physically do. Where before we offered comfort in a more physical way (rocking, nursing, holding, hugging), now we offer comfort in a more emotionally supportive way (listening, sharing words of support, and sometimes hugs). Though they grow, we never stop being their moms—that’s a lifetime position (and I’m infinitely thankful for that).

While there are many more items that would be included in a hypothetical “What to Expect the Big Kid Years” book, hopefully, I’ve given you a sense of some UNexpected blessings that just might grace your life during the big kid season.

Originally published on the author’s blog

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Sydnei Kaplan

I'm a mom and wife, blogger, freelance writer and author of the children's picture book 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙃𝙚𝙖𝙫𝙚𝙣 𝙋𝙝𝙤𝙣𝙚. I strive to help moms navigate all seasons of motherhood, and reassure that parenting evolves but never ends. Find me at 𝙈𝙤𝙢 𝙞𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙈𝙤𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙩 on Facebook and Instagram. In addition to 𝗛𝗲𝗿 𝗩𝗶𝗲𝘄 𝗙𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝗛𝗼𝗺𝗲, you can also find my work on Collegiate Parent, The Real Deal of Parenting, Grown and Flown and others.

To the Friend Who Just Lost a Parent: It’s Going to Hurt and You’re Going to Grow

In: Grief, Grown Children, Loss
Sad woman hands over face

Oh, the inevitable, as we age into our mid to late 30s and beyond. The natural series of life states that losing a parent will become more commonplace as we, ourselves, continue to age, and I am beginning to see it among my circle of friends. More and more parents passing, and oh, my heart. My whole heart aches and fills with pain for my friends, having experienced this myself three years ago.  It’s going to hurt. It’s going to hurt more than you could expect. The leader of your pack, the glue, the one you turn to when you...

Keep Reading

“He’s Gone.”

In: Grief, Grown Children, Loss
Bride dancing with her father, color photo

That heart-wrenching moment when I received that phone call—the one that completely shattered life as I knew it. “He’s gone,” two words that brought me to my knees, screaming and crying. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t put into words what I was thinking or feeling, I was broken. Time slowed to a snail’s pace, it seemed like it took hours to arrive, and when we did, reality still didn’t sink in. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be, we were supposed to have more time, way more time with him.  I’m too young to lose my dad, my kids...

Keep Reading

As An Adult, Navigating Your Parents’ Divorce Is Complicated

In: Grown Children, Marriage
Older couple sitting apart unhappy on couch

“Gray divorce” is a term that refers to divorce in couples over 50 years old. There are plenty of reasons why people decide to get divorced—in some cases, after decades of marriage. Many couples at this phase of their life are experiencing empty nests for the first time and are finding that once their kids have left the home, their relationship is not where they hoped it would be. No matter what the reasons may be, the reality is a lot of adults with families of their own are navigating their parents’ divorce. I am one of those adults facing...

Keep Reading

A Mother Spends Her Life Letting Go

In: Grown Children, Motherhood
Mother holding up child silhouette

Checking in—it’s what mothers do, or what I do anyway. I stand nose to chin with Miles and Gabriel, my grown twin sons, to feel their life force wash over me. They radiate energy and testosterone and smell like shampoo and skin. I inspect their shirts for invisible crumbs, touch and tease their curly hair—a gift from their father—and breathe in their essence, no longer baby-sweet but still beloved. I hold their sleeves lightly between my fingers. I anchor myself there in their orbit. And I ask questions, again and again, long after they’ve stopped listening. The questions are innocuous,...

Keep Reading

Grieving the Death of an Estranged Family Member is Complicated

In: Grief, Grown Children
Woman looking out at water

This past weekend, I learned that my estranged grandmother died. It had been a few years since I had spoken to her, and while I knew this day would come, I never exactly knew how I’d feel when the day actually arrived. Honestly, the moment I heard the news, I felt a bit of shock and didn’t know how to feel in that moment. Was I allowed to feel sadness or pain given that I had chosen to remove this family from my life? I felt so overwhelmed, I ended up googling “how to grieve the death of an estranged...

Keep Reading

There’s a Little Less of You Here Each Day

In: Grief, Grown Children
Elderly man and younger woman's arms around his neck

I’m sitting here on the front porch, and I’m sobbing. I’m finally grieving. I’ve finally reached the place where my heart knows what my brain has known for years. I am now dreaming of the day we meet again in Heaven, Dad, and you look at me and I will see in your eyes that you know it’s me: your daughter. I won’t be “the woman who comes by every day to our house” as you described me to Mom the other day. And this sucks. This early onset Alzheimer’s has stolen a brilliant mind. It’s stolen my mother’s dear...

Keep Reading

Our College Visit Disaster: What You Should Learn from My Mistakes

In: Grown Children, Motherhood, Teen
Mom and teen daughter selfie, color photo

With a song in my heart, I got in the car to drive my daughter to our first college visit.  We drove two hours to a school nestled in the mountains. It was a state school, not too big, not too small.  She knew plenty of alumni from her high school who attended there, and I was convinced it was going to be the perfect fit. We pulled up to the student center, and I jumped out of the car. I glanced around for her and realized she was still sitting in the car.  “Mom, I’m not getting out. I ...

Keep Reading

Everything I Know About Motherhood, I Learned from My Mom

In: Grown Children, Motherhood
Mother and daughter walking down snowy path, color photo

I lay in a hospital bed, and the doctor placed my brand-new son into my arms. As I held him close and stared in wonder at this tiny new life, the gravity of being totally responsible for another person settled in with an enormous weight. I could hear my mom’s voice in my mind, “Support the head, hold him close, let him feel you breathe.” Words from my youth when she taught me how to comfort my crying baby cousin. The first lesson I had in taking care of a baby. When I brought my son home from the hospital,...

Keep Reading

I’ll Send You off with a Million Prayers

In: Grown Children, Motherhood, Teen
Teen walking down sidewalk with suitcase, color photo

I think one of the hardest things about launching your big kids is wondering what baggage they will take with them. Did I give them enough for what comes next? Enough guidance? Enough wisdom Enough confidence and encouragement? Or will they end up carrying the weight of all of my mistakes? My exhaustion? My insecurities? My misplaced fears? What will they hold on to and what will they toss aside as they make room for new experiences, new people, new dreams? RELATED: My Mama Heart Breaks a Little Every Time You Go What lessons will they remember? What moments will...

Keep Reading

Dear Future Daughter-in-Law, I Hope We’ll Be Close

In: Grown Children, Motherhood
Wedding preparation buttoning up dress

Dear future daughter-in-law, My son loves you enough to want to spend the rest of his life with you. That’s a big deal. But I hope you and I can have a relationship too. While I think he’s pretty terrific, I want to know all about you and to have a relationship of our own. I know you are more than his significant other—our relationship may be because of him, but it can also be separate from him. Stop trying so hard. Just be yourself, the woman my son fell in love with. I don’t want you to try to...

Keep Reading