Growing Up

Note: I wrote this post back in July and felt weird sharing then because it was still raw and I couldn’t get over my ridiculous feelings at the time. I do, however, like to share personal stories every now and then as long as they don’t intrude (too much) on my kids’ privacy (especially the teen.)

This morning John registered for an online Freshman math class that he will take concurrently with his regular eighth grade schedule. He got a hair cut and an extra cleaning at the dentist (recommended due to his braces). When he walked back out to the waiting room, he took my breath away. He’s growing so fast and I felt the overwhelming sensation that time is fleeting.

Whit still gets a school supply list over the summer. I went through that yesterday and made a list of new things needed versus items we already had at home from last year. He declined my invitation to go to Target with me, preferring to head to a friend’s house instead. Yesterday he declined my invitation to go to the movies, opting to play basketball and xbox with his brother.

Which brings me back to today.

I’m standing in Target trying to find a red folder with two pockets and prongs (as opposed to any other color, one with pockets and no prongs, or prongs with no pockets) and an acquaintance catches my eye. She’s with her almost-teen daughter, they’re sipping on their Starbucks refreshers and wearing matching Simply Southern tees. And, right then and there, I started crying in Target. I had that with my mom. Still do.

After spending two solid weeks with CeeCee (and three boys), I got a taste of what it’s like to have a daughter. She talked to me, wanted to brush and style my hair, had me paint her nails just like mine, asked to use my makeup “just for fun”, held my hand every place we went, sat on my lap on planes, trains, boats and between, shared the cherries in her cherry cokes, and so on and so forth. I know she’s only six, and maybe the teen years will bring a bump in the road, but man being around her was incredibly special. I felt so loved and so adored. And she loves her “mama” and “dada” just as big.

Those tears in Target had me burning with shame and embarrassment. I am so fortunate to have beat all the odds to get the two boys I have here on Earth. I feel so blessed that sometimes I find myself wondering when it will all fall apart. Wanting for one more thing than I already have is too much.

I pulled myself together and headed to get my own Starbucks, on the card Daddy-O fills up for me every time it goes below $25 as a small treat and reminder of his love. Again, my cup runneth over.

I’m not entirely sure why I’m telling this long story with no real end. I think to share that I used to dream of the day I’d go to Target untethered to wander the aisles for as long as I desired. Well, I’ve arrived and it isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. (But some times it is… I’m just having a moment, I think.)

For you moms with little ones, I know the days are long and tiring. But, the years are short and in the blink of an eye you may just have a man-child and a tween and find yourself crying in the aisles of Target for days gone by.

For Sister, thank you for sharing your precious daughter with me. I often say that I love her like my own and I sincerely mean that. She is the greatest gift you’ve ever given me.

For Mother, thanks for the big virtual hug when I texted you. She said right then and there that’s going shopping for three Simply Southern shirts for us. It wasn’t about the shirt at all, but the gesture made me grin. I’ll never be too old to twin with my mom and sis. I’m so thankful all the time we spent on our big Alaska adventure and go to bed every night with thanks to God that I have you.

For my boys, I am so insanely proud of you and love you with every fiber of my being. You’re my greatest joys and adventures. You’re both growing, maturing and are so independent. Life is trucking along for you exactly as it should – with friends, basketballs and video games. You should never feel like you are my crutch. I want you to soar from this nest one day, I just may shed a few tears along the way.

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39 thoughts on “Growing Up

  1. Well just so you feel better, I have 2 daughters. One is 17 and one is 12. They both more often than not want nothing to do with me. (SIGH!!) Gone are the matching outfits (even at Disneyland)! I do think they go through phases, and I cry all the time. I do tell them they will ALWAYS be my babies!! (Even when they are my age!) You are doing something right, because you have raised independent young men!

  2. Now you have me tearing up as well! Amanda, it really does go too fast. Both of my boys are way taller than me now and although my younger one swore he would never stop snuggling, he has definitely pulled back lately. Yes, I want them to be independent but I also want them to need me…just a little. A photo from a couple years ago popped up on facebook the other day and I cried at how little and innocent they were. I guess all we can do is cherish every single second and appreciate what we have. We are very lucky.

  3. Ahhh. Beautifully said. Love your blog and share your affinity for oysters. I’ve never commented before but this post brought me to tears. I have two daughters and am eternally grateful for them and if we lived closer, I’d let you borrow them any time😁

  4. If it’s any consolation as far as “missing out” on having a girl and/or the closeness during those years, I never have intentionally matched my mom, especially during my preteen years. We just were never like that. We went shopping sometimes, but we rarely ever scheduled time to be together (and still don’t, really). However, I do talk to her on the phone most days now as an adult. She is precious to me and my sister, though none of us show it in the stereotypically female ways. She is just as precious to my brothers, both of whom have a very close relationship with her as adults. On the flip side, my husband was quite close to his mom as a teen and now basically just communicates with her when we see them on the weekends (to have our kids spend time with them). He loves her just as much as he did before…we just go through phases in life, I think.
    Great writing and expression of your raw feelings!! I’m in those tiny kid years right now, and it’s good for me to read perspectives like yours to remind me to appreciate each day as they are passing by so slowly and quickly at the same time.

  5. Oh my goodness Amanda. I began to cry as I read the first sentence of your post. Your words went straight to my mama heart. My summer as been one of struggles—I struggled as my son matured before my very eyes and he struggled as he figured out who he was and where his place is in this big ole world. A definite learning experience for us both. But realizing that time is so fleeting has only made the days we are together all the more sweet. He will be a high school senior next year. But I relish in the knowledge that I’ve raised him right and now I have to let him do his thing. And I’m so excited. Much love to you and your growing boys!! You’ve got this!!

  6. I love your honesty and realness. I don’t know if we would have anything in common, but I really feel your true spirit comes through. I trust your reviews and recommendations and believe you only recommend products you use. I wish you had a daughter too, and I believe you will find that bond in a future spouse of your sons.

  7. You have me crying now. I found your blog when my now 8 yr old son, was an infant and I was a new stay at home Mom. You have influenced me and inspired me so much through the years. I’ve watched your boys grow up and watched you grow along with them. You continue to inspire me as a Mom, a woman, a daughter, and a child of God. Thank you for always being honest and real with us.

    My precious daughter started Kinder this year and it has been so bittersweet. I miss our time together and wish I had savored it a little more. It goes by too fast. Hugs to you!! Thank you for reminding me to stop and enjoy this season of life.

  8. Well Amanda I can certainly relate. I have two grown men now and every now and then when I look at pictures of them when they were little, I get teary too. Now my grands are about the ages of your boys and I remind myself that it won’t be too long before they start to pull away as well. It is the circle of life but I think we are allowed to cry about it every now and then. I do have one daughter and I am so glad I have her. Once boys get married, things change a lot as they should but so glad my girl still needs mama.

  9. I started following your blog years ago. The first post I read was the one where Cookie got demoted. Ha! This was by far my favorite post to date. Thank you for sharing! I have twin daughters and I am blessed beyond measure, but we still can have our longings. I always wished that I had a sister. I have a wonderful older brother, but seeing my girls together has always made me think about how great it would have been to have a sister. Instead, I’ve made great girlfriends and we always say that we are “sistahs”. So, you are not alone. We all have days like this! It has been so nice watching your boys grow into such nice young men!

  10. I feel a lot of what you are feeling but in a slightly different way. We dropped our youngest of four at college 600 miles away three weeks ago. While I am excited for him I am sad for me. I love being a mom and consider my children such a blessing and a gift from God. I miss the days when all four were under ten although I had those dreams of wandering Target alone also. I am happy that my children are becoming adults but boy I miss them. ❤️

  11. You put into words feelings I have with my own two daughters who live 3 and 8 hours away. This summer we had 2 separate weeks with daughters, SIL, and four little grandchildren who love being together. After the week was over I wanted to cry in the aisle at Target. Now I look forward to October when the three grown up girls are going on a mother-daughter adventure. Thank you for sharing!

  12. Hugs to you!! Seeing our kiddos grow up is so tough. I have three college students and my Sophie is same age as John, and I miss those toddler days so much. I have one son, and he is an amazing, kind, and loving young man. But he is very independent, and I don’t get to see him as often as I’d like. Every time I see a little male toddler or hear a sweet little-boy voice, it just pulls at my heart strings. I miss my baby boy who thought I was the center of his world. :) I guess we just have to cherish every moment and phase of their lives, don’t we!

  13. What a beautiful personal and intimate story that you shared…and to encourage you, that daughter-relationship may be coming in your future! My parents divorced when I was 18 and my mother in law, mom to 3 boys, embraced me as her own when my own mom did not. We have shared so much over the last 36 years and I know she has done the same with my two sister in laws. While it’s not the same, I do hope that you daughter in laws to be help fill that void you are longing for. Also, my husband feels the same toward our son in law and our future son in law…finally he has boys in the family!

  14. Oh Amanda, I am reading this at work and my eyes are tearing up, someone hand me a tissue!! You are not only a gifted decorator and inspirational Mommy, you have a wonderful way with words XOXO I have 2 small girls right now, the days are so busy with a full time job and there is always so much I have to do. Sometimes I just want one minute to myself. I have been a reader of your blog for years and you always bring me right back to my grateful place and realizing what really matters. Being a Mom and soaking up every precious moment :-)

  15. You made me cry. I had that life now they are all grown and gone. I’ve written to you about it. It’s so sad enjoy it while you can make sure you have a plan for when they grow up. I didnt my whole life was theres and now I am so lost. So my advice to you is think ahead to the future for yourself. Or you will be here sitting crying like me.

  16. Thank you for sharing this, Amanda. I can certainly relate to what you’re feeling and I teared up when I read your thank you to your sister for sharing your niece. How special for you and how incredibly special for your niece, too. What a lucky girl. I am close to my mother and sister and grew up in a very female-dominated family but I also only have sons. As I’m sure you have, I’ve come to absolutely adore boys and am grateful to God for the opportunity to raise what I hope will be very good men for the world. My boys are older teenagers now and, like you, I mourn the loss of the relationship we had when they were younger. I know it’s all right and normal but it’s tough on a mother. On the bright side, it gives us even more motivation to be good mothers-in-law to future daughters-in-law!

  17. Reading your blog this morning was like having coffee with a soul sister and realizing my motherhood emotional roller coaster is not so unusual. THANK YOU! for being so honest and transparent. I have two sons and a daughter who now have children of their own – but we never stop being “MoM”. I’m not going to get a t-shirt for my daughter but I am going to investigate those Starbucks gift cards that automatically renew to remind my kids that I never stop thinking about them – no matter how old or far away they get. What a great idea, Daddy-O!

  18. Beautifully written. I’ll be crying in the aisle of Target one day, too. My girl just turned 10 and I’m still baffled how that happened.

  19. I love how real you are and how much you share with all of us! My boys are the same age as yours and I too am that girly girl who so longed for a daughter. My family is full of little boys so I have to share my BFFs daughter. Nobody ever warned me how hard this growing up thing was going to be!
    Hugs 🤗 to you because I’m right there with you!!

  20. What a wonderful post!! This hit so close to home for me, I have 2 boys as well. They are 11 and 9, very independent and growing up too fast.

  21. 😭😭😭 I don’t even know what to say, but CeeCee will always be part yours! She is so much like you – I tell people that all the time! I have no doubt yalls bond (which in some ways is more special than what I have with her) will never waiver. I love how she ALWAYS ranks you first in her list of “besties”! And, in her pre-teen and teen years, I’m so thankful she will have you when I may not be her favorite person ;) She is truly a special, perfect little girl and your post is a good reminder to me that I need to take time to keep enjoying the little things now with both her and Jay Bird! xoxo
    PS: let’s plan for her to sleepover with you soon!

  22. I have both one Daughter an two Sons, but I have a similar yearning. The yearning is for a Sister, a true friend. I have a Sister who has mental illness and is incapable of any relationship, let alone a positive one. I have 4 Sister-in-laws and as much as I love them, it is just not the same.

  23. It seems I am the worst mother in the world. I never cried a single tear when my children reached a new milestone. My younger daughter, at 35, is still furious that I didn’t cry when we left her at GA Tech. We were going to see her the next day and live 20 miles away. I knew that both girls were thrilled to be going to kindergarten so I was happy. In those first five years we had survived and succeeded. I felt the same way with middle school, high school, driver’s test, and college. We had all survived and succeeded. I am my daughters’ mother, not their best friend and yet, they call me first when they need to talk about something big. Perhaps that’s why I didn’t cry. I knew they knew that mom and dad were always available. Midnight drives to hospitals 80 miles away, six months on my sofa mourning a lost relationship, a divorce and many other less serious events remind me every day that parents are still necessary. I loved watching each of my children grow into the marvelous adults they are. Be proud that you are raising strong, independent young men. Enjoy your Target visits alone and never forget that you are succeeding, as are your sons, every day. Love on Cee Cee as much as she will allow for that too will change as she matures and succeeds. Eventually, you get grandchildren and they never grow too old to be your baby. Ask your mom, it’s the best!

  24. Amanda,
    I met you last year at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge & you were just as sweet in person as you have been on your blog for all these years that I have read it! I too have just 2 boys like you, but mine are in their early 20’s now (and so similar to your boys its scary). I cried in the aisles of stores when I hit that phase as well. But trust me, THEY need YOU more than ever now, even though it doesn’t seem like it. They just need you from afar, rather than so close. They need to know that you have their backs, that you support them, and that you love them if they mess up (and they will). Get ready, the high school years are TOUGH with boys, and you’ll cry for different reasons. But then they grow out of that eventually and come back around. Life is a roller coaster, but enjoy the tops of the hills as much as the drops to the bottom, and always keep a sense of humor. You got this!!

  25. I love your blog for each and everything you share. Your feelings are spot on. My baby boys turn 22 and 20 in 13 days! However, they still need me and my husband, it shows so often. I continue to send them Christian podcasts when I think they should hear something important or relevant, a text to let them know how proud I am of them, or just to tell them hello—I’m thinking of them. I cried as I read your blog, too! Keep doing what you’re doing.😍
    God bless you and your sweet family, BL

  26. I read your post through tears. My only child, a son is grown with three children of his own. I now watch as they are growing up too fast. I am so blessed to live close by. Grandkids a the best!
    I always wanted a daughter but it wasn’t meant to be. I am thankful God blessed me with my son.
    We were very close while growing up and still are But the saying by Emily Griffin is so true. “A son is a son ’til he gets a wife, but a daughter is a daughter all her life”..
    Enjoy your time with your boys, and thanks for your blog and Instagram I throughly enjoy it.

  27. Oh my, I do recall those feelings as my children grew up. It happens to all of us, as a son or daughter “fly” on their own. As Mothers, we teach our children to be independent, yet it is painful as they reach for this independence. Each step makes you proud, but makes you a bit sad too. I found this as they went to kindergarten, then middle school, high school, and college. Their marriage made me happy because they each found partners who were perfect for them, yet I cried as they drove away after the gift opening. Today we work on relationships with our adult children and hope, like you, that they always know they are in our thoughts and are loved. And we treasure those times we have a special trip together or have family time. Blessings to a Mother’s heart.

  28. awwww amanda i just teared up! this is beautiful! don’t ever feel ashamed or feel bad for feeling this way. even though i’m single with no kids, i love reading your blog and i’ve always thought if i ever became a mom one day i would love to be an amazing mom like you are! and your little niece is sooo lucky to have you as an aunt! i have nephews and i love to spoil them haha. i see how loved your kids and niece are and how special you always make things for them and it just really inspires me! sending you lots of love and hugs!!! xoxoxo

  29. I doubt I’m saying something someone else hasn’t already said, but Mama – just because they’re boys doesn’t mean you won’t have that kind of relationship with them. It ebbs and flows. My boys definitely “prefer” to be with friends most of the time, but we still have an incredibly close relationship. Definitely not the same as when it was only us together all day… but it’s still there. Hugs to you, friend. I know these feelings so well! xo

  30. I have no words really. This post made me feel emotional. My son is 7 and I feel the SAME way. He’s growing so much and time is not stopping. I know it is a blessing that he is growing and doing all the boy things that he should be doing but my goodness! You are not alone in your feelings!!

  31. I have 2 sons now in their 30’s and I know just where you are coming from. I love them to death and I love their chosen partners but…….I too have moments like yours in Target, not often but sometimes and I too feel guilty that I am somehow not happy with my beautiful son’s. They both live away one in Panama City and one in Sydney (I live in Brisbane Australia) and I occasionally wish I had a daughter to have coffee with or shop with or even just ask ‘does my bum look big in this?” I have read your story and although I had no trouble having my sons I had 3 miscarriages before accepting that we would be a family of 4.

    I also want to say that I have followed your blog for quite a few years and as I said my son lives in Panama City and has just been offered a masters degree in computing science at Georgia Tech. When he told me I thought ‘I know that place!” It’s funny how small the world is. Thank you for the pleasure you bring me with your blog and your wonderful family. Lindsey Back. Brisbane Australia.

  32. Love your candor, vulnerability here Amanda!

    I gave 2 kids – 12 & 10 year-old boys. Been enjoying this site every morning for 9 years (or so when I finally discovered it).

  33. This was such a beautiful, touching post. Thank you for being so open and honest. I have a boy and girl, 13 & 16. I thought parenting littles was hard, I had no idea….teenagers are HARD. Letting go and stepping back is hard. Parenting them is so different, and sometimes lonely….no more playgroups, etc. But I’m trying to find the good parts of this stage! Before I know it, it too will have passed. Hugs!!!

  34. Amanda,
    I have read your blog for years, but never commented. I have a 7 month old baby boy. My husband and I both were hoping for a daughter (he has 4 nephews!), so when we first learned we were having a boy, for about a millisecond I thought “Oh no! Will we be disappointed?” In the next millisecond, I thought of you and how much fun you have made it look to be a boy mom. Thank you for your example! Candidly, it’s also nice to know you are human and have these moments too… I’m already dreading how quickly these sweet baby years will fly by, and I am making a mental note to soak them up.

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