I took some time off during the last few months of summer to help my oldest son prepare to leave for college. The “preparing” included the tasks of getting his paperwork in order, purchasing the supplies he needed to move into his dorm, packing & shipping his clothing..etc. but, more than that, it meant spending as much time with him as possible before he left home to start a new life on his own.
I needed to prepare myself too and, honestly, I wasn’t. I’m still not. Nothing can really prepare you for the void you feel when a child leaves home and I’m still reeling a bit. It has been a very difficult time for me. I have not yet been able to go into his room without becoming a sobbing mess. I’m so happy for him but feel such a crazy mixture of emotions. Joy and sadness all at the same time. I miss him terribly but I’m also excited for all that awaits him.
The question “Where did the time go?” keeps playing over & over again in my head. I am sure a lot of you can relate since you have probably asked yourself the same question many times as you go through different stages with your own children. Well, the time flew by in the late night feedings, first steps, first words, bedtime stories, and kissing boo-boos. It snuck past me during homework, carpools, after-school sports, and Spring concerts.
Then time picked up the pace and ran a full-on sprint right through teenage attitude & angst, never-ending laundry, driver’s tests, SAT’s, and college applications. Time was behind the wheel of a big steamroller that came out of nowhere and leveled me..leaving me with even more questions. Was I (am I) a good enough example for him? Did I teach him all of the things he needs to know to make it on his own? Will he be safe? Does he know how much I LOVE him? I mean really KNOW how much? (so much that it feels as if my heart will burst from the size and weight of it) I guess all I can do now is hope and pray that the choices I have made in raising him will help him to make the right choices as he goes forward into adulthood.
I saw this quote recently and it really struck a chord with me, especially now as I enter this new phase of my life; “Parents are often so busy with the physical rearing of children that they miss the glory of Parenthood, just as the grandeur of trees is lost when raking leaves.”(credit Marcelene Cox) Here is where we lose some of that time I mentioned above. We are so caught up in the “business” of being parents that we sometimes forget what a joy it is just to BE a parent. You have to live in the moment with your kids as much as possible or you will miss that “glory”. That’s when time slips right through your fingers. When you don’t realize how truly wonderful it is just to BE the parent of an amazing little being.
If there is anything I can offer as advice to any of you it’s this; Hold hands and skip with your child..I mean literally hold on tight and SKIP! It doesn’t matter how old they are. Be joyful and swing your arms back & forth. Giggle and be silly as you trot along beside them. I made my son skip with me one afternoon during the last week he was at home. Of course, like any 18 year old would, he thought it was ridiculous but (after bribing him with gas money & food) he agreed and let me have my moment of nostalgia.
I skipped down our driveway with my baby boy who is now almost a foot taller than me. The one who used to dance around to Winnie the Pooh songs. The baby who could not leave the house without his stuffed purple dinosaur AND no less than three pacifiers. The one whose fingers and toes I swear I was just counting. The one who started me on my journey into motherhood. I laughed and cried as I remembered how I used to hold his little hand and then looked down to see that my own hand was now the smaller one.
When we finished the little trip back in time he gave me a quick hug and said “Love you Mom”. Then he was off to do what teenage boys do. Something that certainly didn’t involve hanging out with a teary-eyed Mother. So, this is why I am telling you to skip..skip now…. because soon enough, in a blink it seems, they will be skipping down their own path…out of reach of your grasp. Hold on and cherish every single minute with your children…even the tough times. I would give anything for a few more years back.