A Photo Journal of What Raising Kids Looks Like

Momservation: Raising kids is just the first great ride in the amusement park.

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I’ve been writing my parenting column since my kids were three and four. They are now thirteen and fourteen.

And one of them is now going to be in high school. This is how I feel about it:


Where did the last ten years go?

One minute I was whining about there being no such thing as vacations with young children only trips, fearing I was never going to be able to eat a peaceful, unrushed meal in a restaurant again, and being desperate for nap time so I could get a few quiet moments to myself.

The next minute: I’m whining because my kids don’t want to go on vacation with us they want to be with their friends instead, I fear with all the busy schedules we’ll never find time to get us all around any sort of dinner table together, and I’m desperate for some time with my kids because they’re always gone with their friends and the house has become way too quiet.

This is how I feel about this:


Veteran mothers warned me to enjoy new motherhood because it goes too fast when I was drowning in spit up, dirty diapers, and sore boobs with unbrushed teeth and unwashed hair. Instead I flipped them off and told them to join me at a 2 a.m. feeding with a crying baby, sleep deprived mother, and a husband pretending to be sound asleep—then we’d talk about how time flies.

But damnit they were right. And now I’m that mother, rushing to warn any new mother I see to slow down and enjoy these 18 short years of raising babies. I am panicked to have only five years left with both my children who are not children anymore, towering over their mother, kissing stubbly cheeks of my son (when he’ll let me), and sharing Midol pills with my daughter.

If ten years went by in a heartbeat, these final years have become a world record sprint race to adulthood. This is how I feel about it:


High school. A kid of my very own in high school. Wasn’t I just there?

How I would love to go back to my biggest problems of diaper rash, puke stains, not sharing toys, having a fully stocked diaper bag, worrying about too much TV time with Bob the Builder and Dora the Explorer, trying to get a stroller and a car seat checked as carry-on luggage, trying to keep more water in the tub than on the floor, disguising vegetable as something good to eat, and whether to ride out a fever or call the doctor.

It all seems like a walk through Disneyland compared to my upcoming journey: Are they doing drugs? Are they SnapChatting nude photos? Are they getting drunk with friends? Are they getting in a car with drunk friends? Can I trust their friends? Can I trust them? Are they too serious with their girlfriend/boyfriend? Are they having sex? Do I talk abstinence or birth control? Will my kid be a safe driver? Will my kid make it home safely? Are they where they say they are? Is my kid doing enough to get into college? Is my kid overstressed about getting into college? How will we pay for college? Is my kid doing something online that will haunt them forever? That will ruin their chances for college? Have I done enough as a parent to prepare them for the world?

This is how I feel about that:


But you know what? I’ve spent the last fourteen years doing everything I could to be a good mom. Sometimes I was awesome. Sometimes I wasn’t. I chose the harder road of hands-on parenting that can be exhausting and sometimes makes your kids hate you, avoiding the less supervised easy road that seems fun at the time but ends up with your kids undisciplined and disrespecting you. I’ve made it my mission as a parent to do more good than harm and no matter how the cards fall— to enjoy the journey.

And we have. I have fourteen years of amazing memories and experiences of being a parent to two fantastic kids. Each year has been better than the last. And despite this exhilarating ride of raising children quickly approaching the exit, I’m going to throw my hands up and bring it home without fear of the future. Yes, this portion of the ride is almost over. But I know thanks to job I’ve done and will do with my kids, I trust that two likable, contributing, competent, compassionate adults will be waiting to join their mom in line for the next ride.

This is how I feel about that:

Summer '11 296




  1. Janine Caldwell says:

    Well said, Kelli. It is amazing how turbo fast these last couple of years have flown by and I know it’s only going to get faster. This summer has already been such a different experience from previous summers. My 8th grader is in full jr. high social mode and even my future 5th grader has become more independent. Guess I’ll be getting some writing down this summer, after all. Right there in the trenches with you, my friend.

    • kellimwheeler says:

      Thanks Janine! Another phenomenon of the kids growing up–no more summer camps! They’re too busy with their sports or just want to hang out with their friends! I guess I’ll be busy editing my manuscript with my free time this summer — let’s exchange chapters!

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