One night, my husband was out at a meeting. I cleaned up after dinner, started the dishwasher, swept the floor, and then I listened for the kids . . .

I listened but I heard nothing. 

The silence made me a little sad.

Stunned almost.

It was as if I had arrived in some way, somewhere I wasn’t sure I wanted to be just yet. 

I admit I found myself frazzled and overwhelmed in the early chaotic days of motherhood rushing to get the kids to nap or to bed so I could have some time to myself. When the kids were small, the days of working and mothering were complicated and exhausting.

But I also knew I wasn’t quite sure I was ready for this.

This early fall evening, the boys were watching Dude Perfect and Catch Em All Fishing videos on their tablets with their headphones on.

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I could have talked to myself or announced E.T. was hiding in my closet with all of their stuffed friends. I could have told them there was ice cream, hot fudge, and rainbow sprinkles in the kitchen for dessert, and there’s a chance they still wouldn’t have looked up.

I tried to deny the fact that we had arrived at this part in parenthood.

The part of parenthood when silence would take over evenings because the kids would be busy doing something else without me. 

The part of parenthood when they needed me, but not all of the time, and mostly just on their terms or when I was invited.

The middle part of parenthood feels new, but we’ve been here for a while now. 

It’s like a blender turned on from what seems like having gone from low speed to high speed in a matter of seconds. 

It feels a little sad, a little exciting, and a little hard all at the same time.

The middle is where you might find yourself longing for the toddler days and the days when happy, giggling preschoolers would snuggle up (and fit easily) in your lap. 

The middle is where you might long to hold your child’s warm, chubby little hands again, or make them the happiest toddlers on the planet by pouring Cheerios on the highchair tray. 

My boys are 8 and 10 years old now. 

I look at them and see the little boy melting away in their profile, and it breaks me a little. 

But, I also find how much I enjoy who they are becoming even in the complex days of tween life and sports schedules.

I find myself with mixed emotions about how I feel about this new space of sometimes overwhelming silence. I’ve decided to reach for gratitude when I feel that way. 

I am reminded every day of where we have been the last 10 years. Each time I see a toddler on the playground, a frustrated mom with wispy hair frazzled at the grocery store with her preschooler, or a mother cradling her infant while sleepingI smile. I smile because I have been there, and while it wasn’t always perfect, I loved those days. 

But as it turns out, what I discover more and more, is that I love these days too. 

These are still the days of wonder. 

Just like when they were a toddler, everything is new. 

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And each day, I find out how talented they are, how smart, how brilliant and funny they are, and how mature they are becoming every day. They have big ideas.

So, for now, I’ll be a little sad if I have to be.

But I am most thankful for this new destination on our journey through their childhood. 

And it’s true, just like the words in the song by 10,000 Maniacs, “These are the Days”we’ll remember these days too. 

Dena Wentz

Writer, social worker, wife, and mom of 2 boys trying to make it better. Cardboard, Joy, and More and Ana's Little Free Library are our two special projects. Follow at my Facebook page #What We've Got is Gold.