There are beginnings, middles, and an end to every story. Beginnings are always fun and exciting. Middles should draw you into the characters and really let you enjoy who they are, and for me, endings are always bitter sweet. There will never be another time in my life in which this little bit of knowledge has so much meaning in my life.
You see twenty-one years ago my oldest son was born and four years later came my middle son. Both are well past the middle stage and well on their way into manhood. I was almost to the homestretch! The end of the road as they say…that point in my life when it would suddenly resort to being MY life once more. (And years ago I would have appreciated this a little.) And then out of nowhere five years ago I had another son. Kabam! My entire life changed but for the better I think.
I was much older. I was a little more patient. I was more appreciative of the little things. And then when my oldest son moved out last year it hit me that these years really don’t last forever—like we think they do. And it shed a new light on how little time I have spent with ALL of my kids.
Years ago, I was too rushed. Too impatient. Too young to appreciate this thing called motherhood to the fullest. (Those of you who waited to have children will probably not understand this last part but it’s the truth for me. I was too young to really understand what “being a mother” really meant.)
Now I’m far past those years of impatiently rushing through my life and I’ve slowed down significantly, and I’m learning to take the time to enjoy “smelling the roses.” I did an excellent job raising—what I term “the last few gentleman of the world”— and I’m proud of that. But this go-round feels a little different for me. I’ve really taken some time to just hold my youngest— much to his chagrin—and while I feel like I held my first two boys just as often, something just feels different. This time I know it’s the last time. I know this part of my life will end and I catch a glimpse of that ending EVERY single time my oldest son gets into his car and drives home when he visits. I can see my very chaotic house suddenly growing very silent. Although I will finally have the time to do whatever I want, I think the idea of “having more time for myself” is actually a little unnerving.
So this Monday my youngest son enters Kindergarten for the very first time and it has hit me: This is the last chance I have to get this right. This is my last chance at watching this incredibly beautiful child grow into a wonderfully, productive, bright young man, just like his brothers are.
So we’ve bought all of our school supplies, packed our bookbag, picked out the lunch box, and talked about all the wonderful things he will learn in school. He’s excited. And Mommy is a little miserable. I know I should be happy that I will have a little more time to myself but I keep seeing a glimpse of this empty house when all my kids are grown and gone. All that time I’ll have to do the things I’ve dreamed of. But I CAN wait. Because for now…I’m ready to just be Mommy. It’s my last chance to take hold of these moments and treasure each one. I have plenty of time left in my life to do other things. There is nothing that I can’t accomplish and with a little effort, I will do it well. But I CAN wait.
I hear other people say “I can’t wait for the kids to just go back to school.” And it makes me a little sad to hear that because I said those very same things. But someday they are going to watch their grown children get in the car and drive to their own homes, and then face an empty house. You’ll have time to run all your errands, write, read, work on your career, but you’ll never have these moments with your children again. They’ll be placed away in the memory box, treasured when you bring them out, and you’ll remember the wonderful smiles you shared with your kids, but you’ll never experience these moments again.
So here we stand, my son and I, at the beginning of his school years. Hand in hand, we’ll walk into that school together, and he’ll be so excited, and of course, mommy will cry. Because I know this is the last time I’ll have to drop off my children on their first day at school. The last time we’ll have to rush out to Walgreens to buy the supplies for a project that’s due the VERY next day. This is the last time he’ll forget his lunch on the dining room table and I’ll have to take it to school for him. This is the last time he’ll play hookie from school and I’ll come home to find him playing video games instead of staying in the bed sick. This is the last time we’ll have to pick out gifts for his teacher that “just right” and sign every Valentine card a different way because it’s important to him to do so. This is the last time I’ll have to attempt to bake cookies that I will burn and have to run to the store for “store-bought cookies” because I’m simply not proficient at baking. And my son and I will wink at each other when his teacher asks if he made these cookies for the class and then we’ll giggle about it later that night.
This is the last time he’ll be nervous before his first dance, he’ll ask me questions about girls, find his first girlfriend, break up with his first girlfriend, drive a car, buy a tux for Prom, and someday this will be the last graduation I attend. It’s bittersweet as endings usually are.
Whatever life brings you…I hope it’s bittersweet. I only want to leave you with this small piece of advice my mother gave me when I was very young “Enjoy the little moments every day.” Sometimes life isn’t this grand scheme…sometimes it is just a little bittersweet. Enjoy your day whatever it brings.
Mommy and Caiden on our way to the our last trip to the park for the summer.