Just the other day I was entangled on the sofa with a boy-man I had never quite seen before. He had the face of my child but everything else had changed. He was laying in his bathrobe watching tv and must have lost track of how cool he was for just a few minutes. The easy affection was reminiscent of the young boy I once knew. It was familiar and strange and perfectly welcome.

He had wiry limbs sprouting from every direction.
His legs were lanky and long.
He had the ears and nose of a man.
The temperament of a housebound puppy.
The appetite of a bear.
His eyes were sharp and blue.
His hair askew.
His voice was lower, and shoulders wide.
His heart was that of a child.
He was a suspended moment in time.

There’s a quote. ‘I wish there was a way to know that you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.’

Those words ring so true. This is a time of transition for all of us. The kids are growing up. It seems they don’t need us in the same way they used to. I sense the arrival of a new phase of life for myself. I feel freer to take on new projects, new ventures, new challengesbecause it feels like my job here is almost done.

It’s not, and nothing could be further from the truth.

When I look at other people’s young children and remember moments from our family’s earliest days, I feel the pang of lossbut really, these are the days. All of the lessons we taught, the tears we shed, the memories we created are here being put into action, in real life.

The sound of my daughter singing in the shower, singing in the car.
The smile she throws me while she’s running down the court.
The eye roll he gives me while slamming the door.
The Saturday morning breakfast that’s cooked by him, not me.
Her first babysitting job. His first heartbreak.
The shift in responsibility from us to them.
The most simple and mundane of days.
Bearing witness to growing up. It is intimate and lovely.

These beings (caught somewhere between childhood and beyond) are at the core of their good old daysand in turn, so are we. Their lives are changing minute by minute. New experiences, new feelings, new life. And although it’s no longer packaged in tiny shoes and frilly dresses, tooth fairies, or baby kissesit’s real and big and important.

What a gift it is to be a part of it.

For whatever reason we feel the good old days have passed us by, it isn’t so. These are the good old days– right here, right now, and it’s right where I want to be.

More from The Sunny Side on Raising Teens:

The Art of Letting Go
You’re My Favorite Asshole
Behind the Smile
Are You My Mother?
Band of Besties

Originally published at thesunnysideofsomething.com