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Saying “YES” to a new stage of parenthood

By Rebekah Engebretson

I don’t remember when it happened. One day I looked around, and my life was different. I had the same car, the same four daughters and husband, the same little house whose walls felt smaller and smaller, yet I wasn’t sure where I was or what I was doing. It dawned on me that I must’ve entered the next phase.

You hear about the phases of parenting, but you only see the one you are in, until suddenly, you are in the next one. Looking back, I saw the signs. I didn’t have anything to add when my mom friends with younger kids talked about how tired they were. I was asked to be a mentor mom at our local MOPS group and my kids the babysitters. It was pretty obvious that I was indeed in that next phase. It felt like starting from scratch, not unlike those first few weeks when motherhood was brand new and a blur.

After years and years of deciding what to do and how to do it and where to go and what to watch, my kids were growing up and I felt the shift. They didn’t want to sit and watch Little House on the Prairie with me, they were planning Marvel movie dates with their cousins and friends at the theater and sharing insider secrets on movies I hadn’t seen.

I think I gasped out loud the day they told me they didn’t want to watch Little House. “Who are you and what have you done with my daughters?” And then, flashes of my childhood and my teen years played in my mind and I remembered my shift. When I started to lose my family to find myself.

I mourned, and I tried to bribe the 10-year-old to please watch it with me. Then I remembered who I was and who I am and the journey it took to get there.

Yes, I am fully in that new phase. The old phase required that I say no to many things that stole my peace and rocked the sometimes delicate balance of mothering four daughters and homeschooling and remodeling houses and staying sane in the process. This new phase requires I say “yes” more often. “Yes” to movies and youth group and heavily monitored social media accounts. “Yes” to rides to town and game nights with friends, “yes,” even to the nights I have to drive 10 miles and pick them up at 11 when I’d rather be in bed. “Yes” to rides to jobs, and rides to the fair and rides at the fair.

Everywhere I turn, I am saying yes. Oh don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of no’s. But I was convinced and reminded that saying yes is important and necessary right now. And that saying yes reminds me to take advantage of the many car rides to town and to enjoy the chattering of my teens and tweens and their cousins and friends.

Because saying no would be robbing them, and me, in this growing up journey. And growing up is what we pray we teach and train well. So I will continue to say yes, and propose to pay attention and celebrate life in this new stage. Time flying is not an understatement, and I want to savor this stage before the next one takes its place. Some day, when I drop them off at a friend’s house or at a movie, I will take a small detour because, Hallelujah, my mom lives nearby and she loves Little House on the Prairie.