Parenting young children isn't easy. It's physically tiring and feels like a twenty four hour job. Even when they sleep, you never quite relax. You always listen, just in case.
But then, as they grow older, the burden of responsibility shifts a little. My teenage daughter is on holiday with a friend's family for the first time. Gone are the cosy friendships of primary school, where your can chat to the mums in the playground. As they grow up you lose control and you have to just trust (and hope) so much more. I'm not saying that your children need you less, but perhaps just in a different way. They may need less of your time, but more ingenuity. You learn to see them as friends too.
As parenting becomes less labour intensive we parents rediscover ourselves as people. We start to find time for our mid-life crises, or just to wonder whether we want to do the same thing for the next twenty five years until we can finally retire. Hence I'm now addicted to the OU and can map out the next five years at least in various courses. All being well, I'll graduate (again) next year. This time I'll take my daughter, rather than my parents, to my graduation. I hope I'm setting a good example.