Kelly Epperson: Raising kids - it's all about transitions and phases

Kelly Epperson

Being a parent has taught me the capacity and resiliency of the heart. Being a mom has also taught me that life keeps evolving.

If we had to distill it, life can be reduced to stages, phases and transitions. I recall my sons’ babyhood and toddlerdom. Just when I thought I would lose my mind if I had to wash another bottle, my boys were done with bottles and on to sippy cups. When I was sick of diapers, they were potty trained.   

And so it has been throughout the course of their growing up. When in the throes of certain stages, it seemed like some would never pass. I had to sit with my younger son every night at bedtime for years. Now, he doesn’t even kiss me goodnight.

Some phases are easier to say goodbye to. My house is no longer littered with Legos, Matchbox cars and Power Ranger costumes. My boys don’t need help zipping up their jackets, and they can wipe their own butts.

But, I admit, there are some phases I miss. We no longer get Happy Meals, go to G-rated movies or read stories together. But we do still eat together, go to movies together (some R-rated), and they tell me what they are reading in school.

My boys don’t play with my pots and pans anymore, but now they can cook a few simple things themselves. It’s a rite of passage, and it’s not about the kids growing up. It’s about the mommy heart letting them become independent. 

The transition of the teenage years is to prepare the parent for the empty nest. Certainly, our offspring need to learn how to make it in the world but, equally important, the parents need to learn how to make it in the world without their kids.

I’m in transition mode as my sons are now 15 and 16. One of the hardest moments of my mommy heart was when my firstborn pulled out of the driveway without me. He got his driver’s license on his 16th birthday and wanted to go for a solo spin.

He and Brother waved as they drove off, and I collapsed on the driveway. That moment is forever etched in my memory. I thought I’d never get used to him being able to go places without me. It took maybe a week. Now I love the freedom that it affords us both. 

Younger son now has his driver permit and I relish the time with him, one on one, in the car. He is a good driver, and we have a lot of fun talking and laughing while he gets his practice hours in.

I tease my boys how they used to grab my leg and be only knee high. Now they both tower over me and toss me around like a rag doll. They hold me down and tickle my feet. I cherish this time with them as they are becoming young men as much I loved the time when they were precious preschoolers.

They don’t yell out, “Mommy, watch me,” but they do come and say, “Mom, you gotta watch this video. It is hilarious.” My heart has learned that the capacity for love and pride expands with each passing moment.

I’m in no hurry for them to graduate and move away, but I know it is inevitable. Giving them wings, and 20 bucks and helping them along the path is my job. My heart knows that the path will always lead them back to me for a visit, some memories and some new laughs. And 20 bucks. 

Kelly can be reached at, PO Box 2324, Loves Park, IL 61131, and

The Journal-Standard