I stood there ironing my dress for the night’s event and couldn’t help but wonder how I was old enough to have a high schooler. It couldn’t be possible. Time can’t go this quickly. My heart was feeling sentimental when without warning, I heard it.
“They’re two, they’re four, they’re six, they’re eight; shunting trucks and hauling freight.”
My TV, which just moments before was playing an infomercial, was blaring the all too familiar theme song of Thomas the Tank Engine. Tears welled up as I was transported back some 13 years and could see clearly the little boy who used to run into the living room at the sound of this familiar song. How had my cute, little, crazy blond headed boy turn into a handsome, hairy, taller-than-me teen starting his final years under my roof?
I wanted my sweet little boy back. I wanted the years of watching Thomas, Barney and Elmo! Building forts, going on scavenger hunts, and napping together. I wanted them all back, every single moment. I wanted a do over. I would do it better. We would go on more trips, be more spontaneous, and make better memories.
Panic took over my heart as I played the past in my head and contemplated the next four years. FOUR YEARS! That’s all I had left. He was graduating the eighth grade and four years was hardly enough time to cram in everything I still I wanted to teach him. As the years had passed, I would tell myself he was too little to learn this or there was still so much time to show him that, but now, as my time was swirling by, I was questioning all I wanted him to know.
Did I love him enough? Was his childhood good? Did I show him how to fight adversity and never give up? Had I scarred him for life because I wasn’t present enough – or maybe too present?! Did I allow him to learn lessons he needed? And now as he entered adulthood, was I allowing him to grow into a man or stifling him? Was I a helicopter parent, and now he’ll grow up to be a poor adult who lives on my couch and never leaves?
That night, after I watched him walk across the stage at his 8th grade promotion, and even more memories came flooding to the forefront of my mind, I had a revelation of sorts. I could either live in the memories of the past, constantly wondering if I’d done enough, or I could get busy enjoying the time I still had with him while appreciating all I’ve learned and taught him along the way. I didn’t want to live in the past or be afraid of the future. I want to enjoy each milestone, because, the fact is…it IS short! And yes, he may only have four years under my roof but in all reality, I will always have him. I will forever be his mom and I have so many wonderful things to look forward to. I will be there as he navigates high school and as he scores his first goal with his high school soccer team. I’ll be there to help him get ready for his first prom and his first homecoming. I will help him pick out his first car, apply for his first job, and cash his first paycheck. These are the first of many wonderfully awesome things he still has to experience and I get to be there!
The truth is, I will not always be with him physically, but some small part of me – the good parts and the bad, and probably the parts of me that frustrated him the most, those parts will go on with him. He’ll use words I have used. He’ll see the world through his own eyes but parts through lenses I have taught him. He will pick his own path but will no doubt consider paths he’s seen me take.
So, mommies of toddlers, school age kids, or high schoolers like mine…will you do me a favor? Will you decide today to enjoy where your child is right now? Will you try not to stress about how fast time is going (or how slow)? Life is fun, and life is all you make it. So, soak it all in, cherish the memories, but never take for granted the precious gift that is…right now.