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I went to the pharmacy the other day, to pick up four of my prescriptions. The pharmacist put non-child lock caps on the bottles and the pharmacy tech panicked when she saw me, like I was younger than she had expected. “I will fix these right away.”

I stood there for a moment, unsure what to say. “Actually, you can just leave them.” (I have arthritis in my hands and sometimes I have trouble opening them anyway.)

She shook her head, “But don’t you have young children?”

“No, they are twelve and sixteen, WAY beyond child-proof caps.” I giggled, but she looked at the floor, clearly uncomfortable.

The young woman glanced at one of her co-workers. “I’m still going to change them. It’ll just take a couple of minutes.”

I waited while she switched out the lids on my bottles, thinking about how strange the entire interaction had felt. I wondered why it made her so uncomfortable to let me leave without child-proof caps, but decided if changing them eased her mind, it was a small enough thing and I could just let it go. I was also flattered that I look young enough to have little kids instead of the almost 42-year-old mom of a junior in high school. 🙂

After leaving the store, the  conversation kept resurfacing in my mind. As parents, we go through life stages with our children, growing emotionally and spiritually right along with them. The conversation with the pharmacy tech made me realize how far out of the little-kid-stage I am, and I’ll  never have that again. I’m not over the hill, I’m standing on top of it. I can see down to the bottom and sometimes it scares me. I think about how quickly these first 41 years and 8 months have gone by and it makes me truly cherish every second I have left.

All of those memories came crashing back, like a massive wave and I found myself getting lost in them. I felt my babies fluttery kicks for the first time, the first days of each grade and the feeling of their tiny fingers laced in mine as I walked them into their classrooms. I remembered tucking them into bed at night, searching for monsters and reading bedtime stories in goofy voices. I kissed owies and mended broken toys. I was the person they couldn’t wait to tell about the new cute boy in the third grade or the times one of their best friends talked bad about them behind their backs. I look at my sixteen-year-old and my tween now, and I can’t believe how grown-up they are. No matter how crazy they make me feel at times (like when my teenager drives me or either of them likes a new boy), I know how lucky I am to be their mom. The great thing that I have discovered over the years is every stage is special. Yes, even the dreaded tween and teen years.

Ali driving.jpg PS

So moms of younger children, these are some of the things you have to look forward to. Older kids can watch actual television, other than cartoons or Disney! They can go to fun movies and ride the scary rides at amusement parks with you. They can run into the store for you while you sit in the car if you don’t feel well. Older girls usually love to shop, and I’ve heard some boys do too, especially when you are buying them stuff. Older creative girls love to do fun art projects. I restore antique trunks and my girls sometimes help me. We also all three draw and paint, so when all other topics fail, I always have art to discuss. They sleep and they let you sleep! Older kids like to read good books. My girls and I often read the same books and discuss them. We like to watch most of the same movies and TV shows. We both love music. I enjoy teaching them about music and they teach me about newer artists.

The most unexpected and most wonderful feeling is watching the small mannerisms as they grow up and other characteristics that they share with me. The older they get, the more little pieces of me I see in them, mixed with nuances of their father, grandparents, and many unique qualities all of their own.

I might be on the hill looking down, but I’ll cherish every moment on the way.

Trish Eklund

Trish Eklund is a 40-something mom of two, a lover of words, a photographer of the abandoned, and a co-parent with her blended family. She has been a Nebraska transplant for the last 17 years. Learn more about Trish at her blended family website, http://familyfusioncommunity.com/ and her photography website, http://abandonedforgottendecayed.com/, and the Huffington Post Divorce Page. Her abandoned photography has been featured on Only in Your State-Nebraska. Trish Eklund has an essay, Happy Endings, in the anthology, Hey, Who’s In My House? Stepkids Speak Out by Erin Mantz.

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