As I was packing for a weekend away that included a stay in a hotel with an indoor pool, I decided against packing my swimming suit but was sure to pack the ones for the kids.
It was then I realized that I don't have to pack my suit any more. It's not necessary for me to be in the water with them. Sure, I need to monitor their safety and behavior in the pool, but they don't need me actually in it to help them when they can't touch the bottom or to hold onto their hands as they splash their way around.
It's just another step on the path to independence.
Of course, helping our kids become more self-reliant and responsible is what we parents do. Give children wings to fly, as the saying goes. But all of this freedom does have a bit of a downside, too.
It signifies my return to adulthood.
Children give parents excuses to be kids again - whether it's accompanying them on rides at amusement parks, playing in the snow, sledding or swimming together in the pool or water park. We take them on at Skee-Ball, ride with them on the go-carts and swing with them at the park.
But as they get older, they need you less and less for these types of activities. At my kids' ages, they still enjoy our participation and like to play with us, but in a few years not only will they need us less and less but they will want us less and less as well.
And if they don't need me to join them, I'll be relegated to meeting them at a certain time, only coming along to provide the ride or sitting on a bench waiting for them rather than doing.
While I won't miss stuffing my pasty white body into a swimsuit in mid-February when it's 4 degrees outside, I certainly don't want to miss out on the Batman roller coaster at Great America.
- Julie Gilkay: 920-993-1000, ext. 319, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @JulieGilkay. She is the mother of Benjamin, 11, Grace, 9, and Lucas, 8.