Morphing Into People: When Kids Grow Up


Morphing Into People: When Kids Grow Up | Duluth Moms Blog

I remember being pregnant with my first child, Olivia. We lived in a one-bedroom apartment while we scrambled to find our first home to buy and become “real adults.” We settled on a small place in south Superior. I should call it a fixer-upper to be nice, but really, it was just a dump. The entire house smelled terrible, it had homemade cupboards that didn’t close, a clawfoot tub with a garden hose attached to the ceiling, and a bathroom sink held up with a stair spindle. We had to buy new appliances right away because the fridge was… well, let’s just say it made my husband gag and he can usually handle anything.

I was six months pregnant, we had no money, and now we had this house we needed to turn into a home. The priority was to get the nursery done because that baby was coming and we needed a place to put her. I knew the theme I wanted, and so we painted, put in trim, furnished the nursery with the least expensive version of everything we needed, and it became the prettiest room in the house. It overlooked our backyard and I spent hours in the glider in her room–before she was even born–and I imagined all the things it would become as she grew older.

Morphing Into People: When Kids Grow Up | Duluth Moms Blog

Eventually though, we moved her to a different room to make space for a second babe on the way. Her new space was fit for a princess; Barbies and Disney Princesses were everywhere, pink curtains hung in the windows, and and hundreds of stuffed animals lined the room and covered her bed. It felt like her room was like this for so long and I couldn’t wait for her to grow out of this stage. When we moved to our current home, I spent an entire week making my kids’ rooms ideal for children who were no longer toddlers. By then, Olivia was a tween and hated pink, and my second, Jackson, didn’t like sports, but wanted an orange stripe painted around his room.

These days, to be honest, I am hardly in their rooms. My parents never went into my bedroom and I was always encouraged to make it my own space. This is how I’ve approached their rooms, too. Periodically I’ll help them clean or organize things, but they are 13 and 11 and they don’t need, or want, my help anymore. (Which is just as well because I cannot understand why kids save the bizarre things that they do, so for my own sanity, it’s for the best that I stay in my lane!)

Recently though, my kids were at school and I got a frantic text from my daughter reminding me that she needed her dance bag and a shirt when I picked her up from school. I dutifully went upstairs and down the hall, startled to realize I hadn’t been down there in a long time. I tentatively opened Olivia’s bedroom door, expecting to see her on her bed but, of course, it was empty. I was surprised by how clean the room was; she’s always been my disorganized kid.

As I grabbed the shirt out of her dresser, I was struck by how old she was. She isn’t my bouncing toddler anymore, she is a young woman. She might have things tucked away from her nosy mom (I know I always did). She might have a diary, and the random things on her shelf are maybe inside jokes between her and her friends; mementos from a world I’m not a part of. When I looked at her desk, I saw reminders of shows she wants to watch and things to look up on YouTube. There’s makeup scattered on her night table and the start of a skin care regimen. She’s taken all of the things we’ve given her and made her own little world.

Morphing Into People: When Kids Grow Up | Duluth Moms Blog

This photo is my favorite and she still has it on her shelf. 

I’m suddenly realize that, soon, she won’t even be in this room anymore. She’ll be out in the real world. Without me. She’s turning into a person. She was always a person, of course, but now she’s a teenager with responsibilities and obligations, with goals and dreams. She’s working towards a future, and someday she’s going to be making her own home with someone. Maybe she’ll have a child and wonder what life is going to be like as she sits in a glider and feels her baby move.

I’m struck at how all of this time has gone by, and yet, it doesn’t feel like any time at all. I think of all the things I did with her when she was a baby, a toddler, a first grader, a fifth grader, and I am sad. I feel like time really does go so quickly, but it’s hard to appreciate it when you’re in the thick of it. All of a sudden the little kid disappears and is replaced with a mini adult who’s changed so much and so quietly that you almost miss it.

It’s like when you look at a school photo of your child and realize that they’ve grown out of their baby chubbiness. Or when you notice that their pudgy little hands, that were once always so sticky, have thinned out. Will I always feel a pang of longing when I think back to the times Olivia would run into my arms after school, anxious to tell me all about her day? Will it always hurt a little when I think around laying in her bed reading stories and rubbing her cheek until she fell asleep?

I always say that being a parent is just making a series of decisions even when you have no idea what you’re doing. You wing it from the day you bring them home until the day you leave this earth. I can’t even say it gets easier; you may not be dealing with things like learning to share with friends, but you’re learning how to let them put their hearts on their sleeves, or navigate real world problems on their own. It’s funny to think that on the same nights I go to bed desperately wishing my two toddlers would hurry and grow up so it wasn’t so draining every day, I’m also thinking about my two older kids and wishing that they would slow down.

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Sara Strand
Sara is a stay home mom (not a regular mom, a “cool” mom) of two teenagers and two elementary grade kids, who is always stressed out because one has their driver's license, one is a free spirit, one is fearless, and one is always in the clouds. In her “free time”, she is a book reviewer, dance mom, true crime podcast junkie, Dateline/Keith Morrison fan club devotee, and an Amniotic Fluid Embolism survivor. Always honest and sometimes funny, you can also find her at her blog, Stranded in Chaos (, where she shares good (and not so good) books, tales from mom life, recovery and life after birth trauma, and livin’ la vida loca after 40ish.