As I drove Riley to her first day of 7th grade, I realized that she's now halfway through the mandatory years of schooling. Of course, we agree that she will be going to college, but she's got more school years behind her than she has to go until that momentous occasion of high school graduation.
I think we think about these things differently when it's our youngest child. While we've been there and done that, we know that this is our last time.
It doesn't quite feel like the beginning of the end, or anything that momentous, but it does feel like the end of something.
Maybe it's just a matter of being able to enjoy where we are, but I love having older kids. I love their original thoughts, their senses of humor, their ability to comprehend more abstract concepts. I love that I can send one child to one end of the grocery store while I grab what we need on the other. I love getting their texts. I love when their eyes sparkle with pure joy.
I have no delusions that parenting is any easier the older they get. I often say that their younger years are physically exhausting, and it becomes more intellectually and emotionally exhausting the older they get. Their negotiating skills are more honed now; their descriptions of their days are edited for parental consumption. It takes finesse and timing to have heart-to-heart talks.
While I certainly have my concerns, I have no problems boasting about how great I think they both are. They are loving, happy, funny and capable.
I know I'm only halfway through their schooling years, but I think we're off to a good start.
*I wrote a little more about the joy of firsts with older children on Moms LA.