As a mom whose kids are in the home stretch of high school, I can tell you the emotions flutter just below the surface, threatening to gush out in a torrent of waterworks or maybe a scream.
I’m watching the pumpkin patch visits and apple picking on Facebook. The tooth-gapped smiles and childish joy of my friends’ younger kids stab at my heart. I was there once. I would help my kids put on tiny shoes and bright colored t-shirts, too, and then we’d drive out to the country to pet farm animals or run through a corn maze, too. We’d eat spice cake and pick out our pumpkins, too. We were there, too.
And it was only a minute ago.
Everyone told me it would go fast, but I didn’t think it would happen to me.
Today, they went off to school and my son had to bend down so I could hug him goodbye (yes, I get that daily love and I treasure it!). Busy with their own musings, one grumpy, the other overly excited for spirit day, they dressed on their own, they filled backpacks on their own, and they walked off to the bus stop on their own. I am there, but I’m a cursory player. I’m not the ring master…anymore.
Even as I write this, I’m sitting here crying. I see that little tow-headed boy reaching out to feed a goat. I see that carefree little girl jumping on the inflatable, and I wonder if I sucked up enough of that when we were there, when we could play.
These days, my little girl who would scream and jump with exuberance over the simplest things, asks me pertinent questions about politics or sex. My little boy who replaced his “b’s” with “v’s” and insisted it was “lightsaver,” gives me a nod in response to a query, or, if I’m really lucky, a grunt.
And there is joy still.
We watch old movies and laugh over the ancient technology. They “get” adult humor, and even though it’s sometimes uncomfortable, it provides a commonality. We play poker and blackjack, and we take weekend trips in our camping trailer when they’re not off with their various activities. We spend time together, but it’s in fits and spurts, not every day involvement.
And, they get on my nerves. I want to pull my hair out. They get moody, and I get angry. But maybe that’s God’s way of making sure they leave the nest. We’re to leave our parent’s home and create our own. We’re to cleave to our spouse, not to our parents.
In this age, it’s a process. You go off to college or the military, you join the workforce, you get your own digs, and you find a wife or husband, and through the growing pains and delights, you create your own life. A life away from your first home.
Now at the tail end of the daily direction of their lives, I feel the loss. The loss of crayons and board books, of plays and recitals, of dry cereal and cartoons; and I hope they remember enough of their growing up years to know that we cared and nurtured…and loved.
I want them to go away, because I want them to live the life that God has planned for them, to impact others, to make a difference in the world, and to have adventures.
And, I want them to stay, because I’m selfish.
I miss the little girl and the little boy who used to break stuff and write on the walls and hug my legs and beg for ice cream. I miss them, but I’m also excited to see what they’ll do with this amazing life God has planned for them.
Pumpkin patch pictures: Vollmer Farm, Bunn, NC on 10/10/2009