“You can’t imagine it now, you couldn’t possibly, not with school plays and parent teacher conferences, not while you’re trying to keep up with fundraisers, sports and the drama of an adolescent’s life. No, you cannot imagine it now.”
I am the woman who wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, I am the woman who loved dedicating herself to raising her kids. I am the mom who still has an Easter egg hunt for her grown up children. I am also the mom who empowers them to be independent, encourages them to go after their dreams, and supports them in creating a life of their choosing, but if you can tell me at what age a child truly stops needing a parent, stops needing to be cared for like a child as only a parent can do, well then, I’m listening.
Who else is going to spoil them once they’re out in the world, who else is going to make them feel like they’re still little kids when they so quickly may find themselves raising little ones of their own.
You bet once in awhile I fold my seventeen year old’s clothes, not because he can’t, not because he won’t, not because he doesn’t. I do it (occasionally) because it creates within me the sense of taking care of my young man like I did when he was a little boy. This is the young adult who will graduate next year when only yesterday I had to call him down from windowsills, walls in fitting rooms and any other place he could find to climb. So if by folding his laundry every so often in brief moments of my hurried days, it feels like I have my little guy again, I’ll take it!
Everyone says, time flies, and it does, but when you’re in the thick of raising young children, you cannot grasp how quickly it’s really going.
“What do you mean you need a passport? Where are you going? Weren’t we just about to read a bedtime story?”
That’s what it feels like to the parent of a child who has rapidly grown into an adult.
Years ago, sitting in my seat at TD garden, looking out onto the sea of empty chairs that would soon be filled with graduating students, all I could see was my little free-spirited, blonde haired girl running in her sundress and jellies. I wanted to yell out “stop, just give me one more minute with my baby girl”!
My youngest daughter, the one who didn’t want to be left at daycare, nursery school, or art class, the one who never wanted to leave my side, always holding tightly to my hand, her eyes pleading me to stay with her, now lives with her girlfriend and they have plans to move 3,000 miles away. How will she hold my hand from there?
I’m not spoiling them, I’m giving them a gift, I’m letting them have a mom who they can turn to when they need me, who they will feel comfortable crying to if they want to, I’m giving them a safe space where they can connect with the little kid inside of themselves who just wants someone to take care of them again, even if only for a moment.
No, you can’t imagine it now, not if you still have young ones at home and I get that. Taking care of your elementary or middle school children is an all consuming and exhausting job. You are just trying to get through each day, as you should be.
But those present moments that you are so deeply immersed in now, will quickly become yesterday’s memories, faster than you could ever imagine.
Like so many mom’s before me and so many moms after me, I urge you to play games, read books, stop and listen to your children. You will go to sleep one night, exhausted from all the running around, and wake up to find empty rooms filled with echoes of your children’s voices, and you will see your little ones only in the memories you’ve collected.
Harry Chapin reminds us in his song “Cat’s In The Cradle”
My son turned ten just the other day
He said, thanks for the ball, dad, come on let’s play
Can you teach me to throw, I said, not today
I got a lot to do, he said, that’s okay
And he walked away, but his smile never dimmed
He said, I’m gonna be like him, yeah
You know I’m gonna be like him.
If you think there will be time to go back and recapture moments together, there won’t be, the moments will be gone. Use the time you have now, while you have it, create a bond with them that will guide them “home” no matter what age they are, no matter where they are, and a you will forever share a relationship with your “child” that time cannot touch.
Time may pass quickly, but there is plenty of it for you to make the moments count, the memories beautiful and an everlasting bond.