“Hey, Mom” my almost-teen son says walking in the door from soccer practice.
It still startles me a little to hear his ever-deepening voice.
I look up expecting to see a stranger staring back at me.
And in some ways, he is a stranger.
No longer is there a bubbly, blonde little boy running into the house to greet me with a mischievous grin, sparkling blue eyes, and big hugs.
Now it’s a laid-back man-child who enters rooms in a sort of slow, distracted manner.
His smile no longer comes quite so easily, and those sparkling blue eyes will be looking down at me in a matter of months, I’m sure.
I know with each inch he grows taller, he is inching further away from me.
But I just can’t bring myself to count the summers until he is gone.
I understand the good intentions behind such sentiments.
I always nod with appreciation each time a kind older woman admires my children at a store or restaurant, and says with longing in her eyes, “Love ‘em while you’ve got ‘em. They’ll be grown before you know it.”
There is no doubt that sometimes as parents we get focused on the wrong things. We let the frustrations overshadow the joys, and we take these dwindling days with our children for granted.
But the constant reminders of how quickly the sand is running out in their childhood hourglasses creates an urgency that often only further sabotages our ability to savor the sweetness of motherhood.
Believe me, as the end of each school year comes faster than the one before, I am painfully aware that my children are racing toward adulthood at a speed that takes my breath away.
I desperately want to answer the repeated calls for me to do everything in my power to slow it down. But fighting time is a battle I will never win.
I refuse to live in a perpetual state of fear and panic.
I don’t want to waste energy pushing back against the passing of days, months, and years that I leave myself too exhausted for the here and now.
I don’t want to resent the natural cycle of my children’s lives.
And most importantly, I don’t want to hold them back.
The futures they have in front of them are so full with potential. I can see it already.
My hope is when our last summer comes to an end, they will go rushing out into the world, hearts full with anticipation. There should be no hesitation about leaving me behind.
Yes, the tears will flow, and my heart will ache as I watch them go. But I also know in that moment, I won’t cease to be their mother.
Our bond is forever.
They will come back, and eventually they will bring more people for me to fold into my arms and love when they come — husbands, wives, grandchildren.
So, for now, I am not going to worry about how many summers I have left.
I’m simply going to enjoy each one as it comes.