I feel like I have spent a good deal of my time as a mom counting…
I’ll time you…1,2,3…how long does it take to race around the house, put on shoes, or clean up toys.
58,59,60…Ready or not here I come. And in the meantime I have had to the count of 60 to do a few dishes, fold some growing clothing, or just sit for a blessed minute.
Timers have been set for multiplication tests, toy sharing, and discipline alike. The minutes have been counted for wake up calls and pick up times and curfews.
Paper chains have been made to count down to the last day of school, vacation, and 16th birthdays.
In the instant I became mom, my world was altered, immediately and eternally. From the moment they placed each of my children in my arms our days have been wound together. And these wound-up, wound together days, that at one time seemed to stretch out to infinity before me, have suddenly, rapidly, began to shrink. When I think of that, there is a fluttering panic, deep inside, threatening and building. It’s like a storm that I can see approaching on the horizon, helpless to do anything about except batten down the hatches and prepare to ride it out.
And I know that this, the changing and the leaving, won’t kill me, it isn’t the end, really. Parents have to let go but why does it have to hurt my heart like it does? There is so much in parenting that you can’t know until you face it down.
Ann VosKamp’s words from a few days ago pierced my already hurting heart.
“I want to go back. I didn’t know that would happen until I started letting you go.
I want to go back and pull that boy with that bowl hair cut up on my lap again. Feel your chub fingers help me turn one more page, reach for one more crayon, hold my hand one more moment, and you have no idea how much I don’t care if that makes me a fool.
I want to go back to your sleep breathing on my shoulder and the way I didn’t want to move, to your bows and arrows and slung-on tool belts and well-envisioned, yet questionably-executed tree forts, to your buck teeth and big bravado and flipped up toilet lids and flipped out drive-me-mad attitude. I just want to go the whole ugly-beautiful way back and I want to get a do over.
Go back and shake up that 21 year old girl who brought you home and tell her that the best way to raise up a kid is to just loosen up. Nothing ever got raised up when held down tight.
You grew up — and I want to go back and I want to go with you, but I can’t do that either. That’s a hard thing to sit with.
You don’t get to keep. You get to witness. If you don’t take it all as gift, you end up taking it all for granted.“
So, I do the only thing I know how to do right now and that is soak up every moment we have together. It took so long to get here, so many days spent looking forward and counting down, yet it’s passed in the blink of an eye. Our days are still wound together, just a little more loosely now. I am trying to free myself from the counting, from the pressures of the forward pressing of time, to keep my eyes focused on today instead of what lies ahead. I want my mind to stay inside my head for a little bit. I want my heart to dwell here, in the moments of my days.
This growing up girl who is so strong and confidently knows who she is, blue hair tips and all. My sweet, funny, beautiful daughter who makes fun of my “old lady shorts,” yet I still seek out for “Does this look ok?” advice on clothing, hair, shoes. She can just as quickly make me laugh or want to pull my hair out in teenage frustration. I look at her and it seems just yesterday her brother was her age and she still playing with dolls.
And this broad-shouldered man who used to be this skinny boy sang into the night with me last week, belting out our favorites with The Band. This big kid, who just wants a fishing pole in his hand, is getting letters and calls from colleges already. And while we still have time before any decisions have to be made about what he wants to be when he grows up, the reality is here and the countdown is on. I know that as quickly as he changed our lives when he made us “a family” he will again change it when he leaves…
The clock that hangs on our kitchen wall is stuck. The second hand continues to pulse without moving forward at all, the hands frozen in time at 9:37. Oh how that I could do the same and just pause in the now!
No, no, I’m not ready for now to be over. Not even close. But the best way to prepare for what’s ahead is to be present to what is now. Eckhart Tolle said, “Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now.”
No matter where you are in your journey, it’s some of the best advice I have been given in face of change…Stay where your feet are. Be present to the gift of now.