I have written many times about how quickly time flies. That’s not what this post is about, though I can’t write about life’s milestones from my perspective as a forty-something mom of an eighteen-year-old and a nearly-twenty-one-year-old without inadvertently injecting a little bit of that sentiment. I mean, at this very moment in this very house we’re preparing for the fact that the kid in this picture, the one on the right who it seems was just starting preschool yesterday, is graduating from high school this Sunday.
This being our second time around the block with this graduation business and his being a different kid, I’m not at all surprised that I’m dealing with the upcoming major changes a little differently. Either that or I’m in denial about the whole thing, which is just as likely because that’s how I roll.
But let’s say, for arguments’ sake, that I’M NOT IN DENIAL.
What I am is a little scattered.
I go back and forth between making mental plans for the fall when Jim and I will officially be empty nesters and feeling a little bad for making those plans while I still have a kid at home, scolding myself because that train hasn’t left the station and I need to be living in the NOW while I still can.
Just the other day Jim and I were talking about how our meal plan would change in the fall (lots more salads, less food in the house in general). Going out for dinner every two weeks or so, maybe even weekly? Yes, please!
But then it was time to call J to dinner like we always do: “DIN-NERRRR! DINNER, J! DINNNNNER!” It’s tradition: we yell, and he yells back things like “ALRIGHT! I’M COMING! ENOUGH! STOP! GEEZ!”, all while not moving from wherever he is because he’s in the middle of some video game or episode of “The Walking Dead” or something. We keep yelling, and he keeps yelling back, and we all end up laughing, and I tell him that when he’s in the dorm this fall there won’t be anybody calling him to dinner like we do now and that he’s going to miss it. The truth is, *I* am the one who will miss it.
In just four short months, I will have nobody to worry about during the day except myself and the dog. I get a little giddy about it in some ways because I know what I’m capable of when it comes to getting things done and a long stretch of day can find a much-shortened to-do list by evening. I might even develop habits like long bubble baths, two-hour workouts instead of one, regular naps, or–imagine this–completing books within a reasonable amount of time.
But RIGHT NOW I have this eighteen-year-old who comes home everyday with stories about work or friends (or school, until his last day this past Tuesday) that he wants to share, and I put my laptop–or whatever else I’m doing–aside to give him my full attention. I eagerly ask questions and have real, two-way conversations with him, knowing that this is not a permanent situation and wanting to absorb every single word as if it were possible to save them up for later.
Yesterday he said, “Thanks for raising me,” and it blindsided me because I didn’t know if he was being silly or serious and as I responded by smiling and saying “Thanks for being raised,” because that’s the customary way we go back and forth in this house, I didn’t even care if he was being silly because I’LL TAKE IT and that little bitty moment that he has no doubt already forgotten will stick with me for a long time. Maybe forever.
I guess what I’m realizing as we are in the final approach to our second and final child’s high school graduation is that I hope that I have earned the Class of 2013 Senior Parent Superlative “Most Improved” when it comes to appreciating the little moments. I mean, making plans is great (and we all know how fond I am of making plans), but I know how important it is to stop and look around in the “now”. It’s something I work on every day.
I can’t predict how I’m going to feel or how I will act or what I will be thinking on Sunday evening when he walks across the stage in cap and gown, but I do know that I am going to absorb that moment as much as humanly possible before we all move onto the next exciting phase.