The Kid Left Behind

Momservation: There is joy to be found in letting your youngest child soak up being the only child.

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So I promised one of my readers that I was going to ditch the mournful soundtrack of my oldest leaving for college to kick the beat back up to my inner Bruno Mars.

‘Cause who cannot resist dancing when you hear a little “Uptown Funk” coming at ya?

And you know the best way to shake off the blues and find your old rhythm and dance moves?

With the kid(s) left behind.

In my case it’s my 17 year-old daughter, Whitney. Yeah, she’s a senior. Yes, she’ll be graduating in a little over 3 months before moving on and out in six.

But she’s here now. And she is loving being an only child. And I’m loving that she is happy to soak up me & Daddy’s undivided attention. I’m not going to waste these last days of actively parenting by mourning that they are almost gone. I am going to soak up these one-on-one moments with my baby girl.

My heart sings every morning when I get up to get Baby Girl ready for school. I kiss her on the cheek to wake her up, greeted by a sleepy smile that has been instinctual for nearly 18 years. I make her breakfast and she comes out to eat and chat with me while I make her lunch. It’s a new routine, just ours. When you’re the kid left behind, you no longer have to fight for the bathroom, or be harassed while you get ready, or be reminded by a smug sibling that you’re going to be late. The morning routine is now smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy.

When Whitney gets home from school, she doesn’t go barricade herself in her room or have to play second fiddle to a brother whose energy level is 10-piece brass band. When you’re the kid left behind, you don’t have to fight for attention. Baby Girl sits down happy to tell me about her day and even ask me about mine. When Daddy gets home the two of them rehash their days. Then we make plans for dinner, if she’ll be joining us or not, and we are always pleasantly surprised when she squeezes a meal in with us before rushing off to what’s next. She’s a good girl, straight masterpiece.

It’s like life has slowed down now that we’re down to one kid. There’s not so much to do anymore, not so many places to be. We feel it. She feels it. And it feels good. We sit and talk more. We snuggle on the couch under a blanket and watch Netflix more. I lie on the floor in her room and ask, “What’s up?” and she indulges me. She jumps into bed with me and asks, “What’s up?” and I put down my phone, or game or book and indulge her. She brings her homework into the kitchen while I’m cooking. She’ll jump in the car with Daddy and me to go on errands or for a bite to eat.

Don’t believe me, just watch.

When you’re down to that last kid left behind, something changes. Everyone feels that this isn’t just the end of a chapter—it’s the end of a book. A really good book about growing up all together, under one roof, learning to be a parent, learning how to grow up, sharing in something that doesn’t come this way again. So much love, so much laughter, so many memories, so much to be thankful for…but kids grow up, kids move out, and parents start a new book where they are now in a supporting role and not the main characters.

But it’s not a mournful beat. As we soak up these last days together under one roof, our hearts are dancing to a fun, upbeat rhythm. Here we have this amazing, wonderful kid all to ourselves and she is enjoying us just as much as we are enjoying her. We’re stylin’, wilin’, livin’ it up in the city.

It also doesn’t hurt that we’re getting the band back together by going up to see big brother in Boise this weekend.

Julio, get the stretch.

#KidLeftBehind  #EnjoyThemWhileYouCan  #JoysOfNearlyEmptyNesting

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