My Kids Are Halfway to Adulthood. Here Are 20 Tiny-But-True Things I Wish I Knew Going In

You didn’t ask, but I’m telling you anyway

kids-halfway-to-adulthood: An illustration of a happy mother and son sitting on the floor in the living room, drinking tea and talking, spending time together.
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“It goes so fast!” “Treasure them when they’re young!” “Blink and you’ll miss it!” If you’re a new mom, chances are you’ve heard these cliches a thousand times, mostly from weird, old ladies peering into your stroller while you’re attempting to pick out onions.

But what if I were to tell you that I am that weird, old lady? Ok, I’m not old (I guess…), but I have been a parent for almost a decade, and I recently found myself coming to a stunning realization: My son is 9 (and my daughter is 7). That is halfway to adulthood. We have nine more years of living together in one house. Seven more years until he can drive. Two more years until he’s allowed to get a cell phone. In the words of Keanu: Whoa.

You might think I’d be flipping the hell out. And I am—don’t get me wrong. But I’m also sobered by how good it’s been and continues to be. How it keeps getting better. How it’s not all temper tantrums and 5 a.m. wakeups.

Here are 20 small but true things I wish I knew in the early days. Take them or leave them…and don’t mind me as I interrupt your onion shopping.

1. That the stuff you thought would be fun to do with your kids (playing dolls, reading lift-the-flap books) is actually boring, but that the stuff you thought would be boring (car rides, cleaning up yard waste) is actually pretty fun.

2. That no matter how mad they've made you, or how touched-out you are, you will kiss their little heads any time you are standing behind them.

3. That hormones have a way of making you miss even the worst parts of parenting once they're over--like wiping butts and wrestling a screaming person into a 5-point harness.

4. That third grade math homework is hard, and “carrying the 1” isn’t a thing kids learn anymore.

5. That literally everything will pass. Sleep-depravity. RSV. Only eating brown foods. Bouts of hitting one’s sister. Even if it morphs into something that is also hard, the hard moment you are in will never last forever.

6. That in every kid social situation, there is one mom you will actually want to hang out with. Find her. Commiserate with her about the crappy pizza. Get her number. Text her with sidebars about the person you both hate on the neighborhood listserv.

7. That everyone is using a screen as a babysitter in some way, shape or form. It’s fine (probably).  

8. That no matter how many years it’s been since you had an infant, when you see one, you will feel a sudden urge to bounce up and down in a standing position, while whispering “shhhhh.”

9. That it will be your instinct to answer your child’s questions in the fastest way possible. (Because it’s the law…Because it’s a thing moms do…I don’t know, let’s ask Alexa!) But that you will never regret it if you take the time to slow down and try to care about the thing they are asking: How does Tylenol work? What would happen if the sun and moon crashed into each other? Why are you curling your eyelashes? Answer it slowly and like you’re thinking about it for the first time too, and you just might learn something.

10. That every time your kid gets new shoes, the new shoes will look comically enormous. And then one week later, the new shoes will look normal and the old shoes will look comically small. 

11. That having a child improves your singing voice 112 percent and that, somehow, when it’s time for bed and you’re belting out “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” you will sound like honest-to-goodness Judy Garland.

12. That yelling never helps. It just makes both you and your child feel like shit. This doesn’t mean you won’t do it…but you will try not to do it, and one time out of every four you will stop yourself before it happens.

13. That at first you will be bored by dump trucks, marine animals and the Cincinnati Bengals, but eventually you will find yourself caring, and doing things like pointing out backhoes and asking after Joe Burrow’s torn ligament.

14. That every year, the amount of papers they proudly bring home to show you will double, and that there’s no two ways about it: You have to throw 99 percent them away after bedtime…and then blame your spouse when your child finds his self-portrait in the recycling bin the next morning and brings it to you like evidence in a murder trial.

15. Similarly, that every drawer in your house will eventually be filled with crayons, medicine cups and those stupid gummy grabby hands they give out in goodie bags. You can purge them every few months, but try to leave one or two hanging around, so you can find them when the kids are older like a little time capsule in your bedside table.

16. That the school picture photo package is expensive as hell. Buy it anyway. Add a magnet.

17. That it’s OK to think your kid is a genius. (She is!) Just don’t tell anybody about it.

18. That unless you are an actual sociopath, most parenting “shoulds” come naturally: Narrating your world. Soothing an infant. Showing your love is unconditional. Read less, unfollow those gentle parenting accounts and trust yourself more.

19. That life is a Modest Mouse song, and the years go fast and the days go so slow.

20. That even when they can read without your help, shower without your presence, make plans with their friends without your 14-text-message-coordination—they still need you. Yours is the home they come back to, the approval they seek, the scrambled eggs that are a notch above everyone else’s. Let them go with grace, and hug them tighter with abandon.

jillian quint

Editor-in-Chief, Avid Reader, Wallpaper Enthusiast

Jillian Quint is the Editor-in-Chief of PureWow, where she oversees the editorial staff and all the fabulous content you read every day. Jillian began her career as a book editor...