Eighteen blinks

Nobody warns the mothers about the time.

Those hours and days that seem like they will never end.

The errands, the preschool drop-offs, outgrown shoes, skinned knees, play-dates, mac and cheese, playground woes, spilled milk, bad haircuts, and kindergarten projects made of beans and glitter. The hormones, driving lessons, AP tests, cramming for finals, outgrown jeans, messy rooms, mac and cheese, and sleeping until noon.

Endless time, years of it.

The time that passes so quickly…that slips through your fingers somewhere between diaper duty and senior awards night.

When they placed you in my arms all those years ago, you should have had a warning label.

Handle with care. Love unconditionally. Caution: will melt your heart.

Warning: Object in your arms will grow more quickly than it appears.

Eighteen years passes so very quickly.

Eighteen blinks later, you sit across the kitchen table from me… coffee cup in hand, reading the newspaper. This, this is what years of parenting lead to? A scruffy-faced young man with principles and ideals and morals and thoughts all his own? No longer to be shaped by my influence or advice?

This was exactly what I was supposed to do. I mothered, I cuddled, I talked and I listened.

And then I took a backseat.

I am so very proud of the young man you have become, and look forward to the years ahead as you grow and shape yourself even more into a young adult.

But this nagging feeling that there must be something I forgot to do with you still persists deep inside.

So forgive me if I invite you for an ice cream, pour you a cup of coffee, challenge you to a game of Scrabble, buy you a silly book, ask you about dinosaurs, offer you a ride on my shoulders or touch your thick wavy hair when I walk by.

I might not be finished with this mothering gig after all.

 

Comments

  1. I have to remind myself of this when I want certain times to hurry up – like now, when my 3 year-old is calling me to come wipe his butt!

    Happy belated birthday to your 18 year-old MAN!

    Ack!

    xo

  2. Although Jack is only fifteen (ONLY!) I find myself wanting to reach across the space between us and touch him.

    To connect. To be sure he’s still real. That I’m still his mother.

    He pulls away when I do. “Don’t,” he says. But there’s almost a smile under it. Almost.

    So yes, I loved this post, Sherri.
    And it was worth waiting two months to read it.

    Two months, eighteen years and just as many blinks.

    Because they will always look like our babies to us.

    • Oh you two.

      I was rocking Charlie over the weekend and I couldn’t put him down. I breathed deeply his little baby head and thought, “some day this won’t be.”

      And I just couldn’t put him down thinking about how babies grow into men.

      How they go from ours to their own.

      How the head you stroked when he was an infant becomes something sort of off-limits when they grow up.

      And I just couldn’t put him down.

      Sigh.

  3. I spent 2 hours yesterday watching The Dude fall and tumble and laugh and run all the while sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting to comfort my scared little tot. My arms remained empty. He’s already needing me less and less.
    So you’re telling me this isn’t going to get any easier.
    Sigh.

  4. I just love reading your words, the poignant with just a tinge of laughter, as I try to picture you walking around with your college dude on your shoulders.

  5. Happy birthday to your boy.

    Sigh.

  6. Oh my. My oldest is coming on seven years old, but I feel it slipping away. I know that I will be writing a similar story before I know it.

  7. You have me in tears, again, my dear. The emotions, the what ifs, the confidence, the feeling of incomplete…we will never be done, you and me. We will just never be done.

    Liam humors me every night. He lets me rock him just a little as I whisper his I love yous. I can’t imagine a time when this will end. My body is done having babies…but my heart could hold at least one more…

  8. I get this. I so so get this.
    As I held my toddler tight (maybe too tight) this morning I thought “there’s no way you can ever know how much I love you”
    How did she get to be two so fast?
    And soon she will be 4. And then 10. And then 20.
    But to me she will always be my tiny baby.

  9. I just read this to Brian. He and I love your writing so much.
    I’m sending it to my parents because I feel like this is what they struggle with.
    And it’s ok.

  10. I never understood why my parents hovered even after I became an adult. Now that I have a little one, I totally get it. She’s only 18 months. Those early days seemed endless, but I have no idea how she’s walking and talking already. And I’m already thinking about her walking into her Kindergarten class. It does go so fast.

  11. I love your way with words, your writing is as beautiful as ever.

    Once a mother always a mother, I say.

    Happy belated to your one and only Michael. 18?! Oh my.

  12. I so know what you are going through! It has been so odd to have my girl home after her first college year. She is a woman now and it is so hard to break that “mothering gig”. Beautiful post Sherri!

  13. This is just how I feel as we embark on my daughter’s senior year. I say we, cuz I am right here trying to soak it all up before she leaves.

  14. Look what a handsome and smart guy he has become- you did good Mom!

  15. You captured my sentiments, even though my son is still only 7….we were talking about college the other day, and I realized, “it’s just ten years away”. I’m so thankful he still asks to snuggle sometimes. I think I’ll hold onto him extra tight next time. God bless!