they grow so fast

The complicated beginning of letting go

This is the behind the scenes look at letting go. No, not quite that. I guess it’s the behind the scenes look at beginning to let go, and not knowing how, and not wanting to, but also realizing the beauty of it, which is more than the sorrow, but mourning the changing chapters, and wanting to go back and reread the others a bit slower next time, or wishing you had paged through them slower this time since it was your only chance. I guess that’s it. The beginning of learning how to let go, without really letting go.

See, it’s complicated. It’s not as simple as “you blink and the kids grow too fast and then you proudly let them spread their wings and fly.” Whatever it is I’m doing, yes, I’m doing it proudly. But it’s so complicated. Maybe not for them, but definitely for me.

It was a normal Saturday morning. As normal as any day has been in this time period called 2020 that we’re living in right now. I made the kids breakfast. I made my coffee. I showered and got dressed and did some laundry. And the kids went outside to play with a bunch of neighborhood kids. We’re just now starting to allow a bit of social interaction after this several month-long quarantine — playing outside, social distance, but at least sharing some laughs and bike rides and time together. We are lucky to live in a neighborhood with tons of families and a whole bunch of nice kids. So all of my kids were spoken for — everyone had someone to play with.

Nobody was calling, “Mommy!” Nobody needed anything. Nobody needed me.

Nobody. Needed. Me.

So I reheated my coffee, and I drank it. Hot. I looked around, trying to find something that needed to be done. Laundry — obviously. Cleaning — yes, that, too. But before I could start on either of those, I had one thing I had to do. I sat down, and I cried. Not for a long time, but with great rigor. Ugly-crying. Maybe even sort of loud and sobby. I was staring at my coffee thinking of all the times I had wished I could have drunk it hot, now wishing someone would call for me so I could abandon it like usual and revisit it cold, hours later. But nobody was calling.

I started thinking ahead to a time when I might be able to read a book, or watch a show, or routinely exercise or have time to write. How much I had wished for those things for so long, and now how I wish it would be longer still until I had time for them.

This whole “growing up” thing hits me hard. On the one hand, having the opportunity to grow old is so, so beautiful. And to watch your children grow into amazing, deep, complex human beings is heartwarming and prideful and downright wonderful. But it’s complicated. And it’s hard.

(May they never outgrow handpicking weeds for me)

Maybe it’s hitting me harder this week because my first baby is now 12 and my third and final baby just finished kindergarten. Everyone can read. Everyone can ride a bike without training wheels. Everyone can get their own breakfast. Everyone can dress themselves. And more and more, everyone is ok spending time without me. I’m officially middle-aged, I officially am out of the toddler and baby stage, and I officially have a tween on his way to quickly becoming a teen. I feel like I may be looking ahead to lonely, slow-paced days, when I’ve gotten so used to thriving in my fast pace.

As I sat, crying in my coffee and thinking all this through, I heard the best sound ever. “Mom? Mom! Can you get us a snack?”

I sure can. With whipped cream and cherries on top and then extra dessert topped with hugs and kisses.

“Mom, where are my flip flops?”

“How would I know?” I called out.

“Because you always know,” said my son.

And just like that, I put down my coffee.

I had a brief but telling glimpse that day into how the next few years will evolve. I guess it’s not sad. It’s just different. But in the end, even as my boys’ needs change, I’ll always embrace those calls for “Mom!” and my true happy state will be with cold coffee and a warm heart.

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