The Youngest Child

My husband and I have five kids between us. We were both married before and brought two kids each into our marriage. I had a girl and a boy. He had two boys. When our daughter was born, she was the bridge that brought the whole gang together. All of the other kids have grown up and flown the coop, leaving that youngest child at home. It’s kind of like having an only child- except we still field texts and phone calls on a daily basis from the big kids–and secretly live for those short confirmations that they still need us even in young adulthood.

We’re also on the downhill slide of the major events in a child’s life. We’ve already been through sports teams, plays, dances, boyfriends/girlfriends, homework, driving permits, and all of the fun that comes with teenagers four times over. This time around- it has a melancholy feel to it. We’re not just helping her to navigate the world and learn the life lessons she needs to learn. This time- it feels like we’re witnessing a becoming. Let me explain what I mean.

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With our first four kids, we were in the thick of it. There were five kids at home. Everyone had their own activities and schedules. Play practice. Debate tournaments. Football games. Basketball practice. Homework- never-ending homework! My husband and I both work full-time jobs. It was a lot more about keeping our heads above water than it was about bearing witness to emerging lives. This time- I see it more clearly. Probably because I have the time with only one kiddo in the home. Probably because I learned a few things from watching our older kids navigate their journeys. I feel like I’m watching a life unfold with our youngest child. I get to breathe and take it all in. I also know that this is the final round of every little thing from class projects to choosing the perfect formal dress, so I’m sucking it up.

Our daughter went to Winter Formal last night. My husband and I served as chauffeur for a group of friends because the kids can’t drive yet. We gathered with other parents before the dance to take photos in every pose and grouping possible. We heard the anxiety in their voices and nervous giggles as they set out for the evening. We waited in the parking lot for the dance to end. We listened to their music blaring over the speakers as they laughed and shared stories on the way home.

We witnessed another step in the becoming. And, what a privilege that was.


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