What Do I Do with My Time Now?

This blog is entirely about growing up. Here we capture the ups, downs, twists, and turns of parenting that all relate to the same topic – our kids growing up. We, as parents, are very aware that our kids are growing and changing. Some days, it feels like they haven’t aged a day since toddlerhood with their meltdowns and demands, but, from year to year, we can see and feel the difference. It’s a journey that feels slow but can creep up on you. This past week, my daughter growing up didn’t creep up on me. It smacked me in the face.

At the beginning of this year, Riley started kindergarten. It was a big, huge moment in her life and in mine. Since then, she has been riding the slow train of school-aged kid maturity. There have been some new things, but for the most part, our lives have remained pretty much the same. We were still three peas in a pod continuing in our day-to-day together. Then this weekend happened.

Riley joined a Girl Scout troop at Girls, Inc at the beginning of February. I was thrilled. I loved Girl Scouts as a kid and had been hoping to have Riley join when she started kindergarten. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any troops that offered a meeting time I was able to make happen. Then, one fateful day, the troop leader at Girls, Inc approached me and asked if Riley would be interested in joining. The troop would meet when Riley got off the bus at Girls, Inc till I picked her up around 6. I almost cried. It was perfect. Riley didn’t understand but went along with it.

I was particularly happy to find out that Ri might have the chance to join a cookie booth sale and had her first Girl Scout outing lined up already for the end of the month.  A Saturday field trip was planned to meet and learn from the female engineers at Cook Medical. I couldn’t wait for Riley to get the opportunity. Again, she didn’t understand but went along with it.

In the meantime, Riley was having some trouble with a frenemy at school. I won’t go into the details here, and Riley did handle it very well, but I became aware that I needed to meet some of her friends. I suggested to Riley that she have a playdate at our house and invite some of her friends. Riley did understand this and was thrilled. She even wrote hand invitations to a larger-than-I-expected group of her friends. Unfortunately, the phone number on the invitations was hard to make out, and I suspect she became a bit shy when it came to handing them out. Luckily, I had her frenemy’s mom’s number in my phone from the birthday party she attended earlier in the year and I was able to arrange the playdate. The playdate and field trip ended up planned for the same weekend.

The busy weekend came. I dropped Ri off at the Girl Scout engineering fair and spent the Saturday having quality mom-and-Maddie time. That night, I prepared a few activities to do when Frenemy came the next day. When she got here, the girls, Riley, Frenemy, and Maddie all went straight upstairs, closed Riley’s bedroom door, and stayed there for the next three hours. I didn’t need the activities I planned. I had time. Me time. Unexpected free time that I had dreamed of for the past six years. I stood in the kitchen doing small tasks. Surely they would come down soon. But they didn’t.

Eventually, Frenemy was picked up, and I prepared to be mom again. We went outside to play. A usual occurrence for us on a warm Sunday. But, suddenly, in a whirl of bikes and scooters, the girls were gone again! Off playing with the neighbors from up the street. I, again, had time. Confused, I gave my mom a call for something I remember being called chitchat or small talk or conversation. Something I had forgotten could happen on a leisurely Sunday afternoon.

As Sunday ended, I wondered how we had gotten to this hour on a Sunday night, and I felt like I had hardly seen Riley at all. What is this new stage of parenting? How had she grown up and gotten her own life? What do I do with my time now?