In my experience time and change go hand in hand – you can’t have one without the other.
My dad used to say, “If you’re not changing, you’re dying.” Little did his kids know that he had lifted the line from Big Tom Callahan of Tommy Boy! Sure the man had his kids thinking he was some sort of Confucious, Descartes or Kante. I think it’s fair to say, he was on to something or at the very least Big Tom Callahan was on to something. Without embracing change how can one possibly grow?
The way I see it change can come a few different ways -there have been times when change is healthy, natural and comfortable (that job promotion that you so deserve after towing the line for years). And then there have been times when change came as a violent jolt (your child gets their driver’s license? Ha.) And then there is that other kind of change, the kind of change you are in the midst of while being completely, utterly unaware of while it’s happening all around you.
This past summer I have found myself placed squarely in that last facet of change. It’s all around me and yet remains a bit illusive. It’s tricky to explain really. I feel the change, I am accepting the change but it feels so bittersweet! The change or changes I am talking about are my three kids.
With my oldest son’s 14th birthday approaching, it is becoming almost impossible for me to continue to ignore that this time, well, it is finite. This time, it is so incredibly temporary. I know you’d think a mother would get that right? You’d think after 14 years this would be very obvious. Good grief.
But, let me explain. For those first 9 or 10 summers, things were very similar. Sure, my three kiddos would grow and change from summer to summer but they were growing and changing with me right next to them. They went from a stroller to training wheels to a bike of their own – all the while I was right with them. Having three kids in three years meant that I had a little mini-entourage of kids that were basically all about the same age. So, this summer all three kids have gained a ridiculous amount of independence, all at once. Yes, they can ride their bikes all by themselves, the newly minted neighborhood pool, yeah they will be doing that with friends not their ma.
Don’t get me wrong – there’s a part of me that is loving this new independence but there’s another part of me that is in complete panic. Gone are the days of absolutes. There were “absolutes” in those elementary years – the kids reading program at the library and swimming lessons to name a couple. At the time – sweating my way through the library desperately pleading with the kids to find a book ALREADY or watching their outdoor swim lessons in inevitably the summer’s most chilly, rainy temps had me on the edge of reason. Now, I look back and think damn, I miss “Goodnight Moon” and the front crawl? Where did it go? Where did the time go?
“The older you get, the faster time will go – savor the flavor Katie Mae” – my Dad. I can remember where he was sitting and what he was wearing when he unloaded that little nugget of wisdom on me. I am quite certain this was a real quote from my Dad, not Big Tom Callahan. And again, he was right.
I am looking ahead to all three of my kids being in middle school this year, it’s exciting and terrifying at the same time. I am looking ahead to my babies becoming the babysitters instead of the babysat! I am looking ahead to shopping trips in the Young Miss department instead of the girls department (HELP ME!), looking ahead to first jobs, first dates…the list goes on forever.
So for now, in this moment I am going to savor those morning snuggles that I still get, savor those grocery store trips when one kid wants to spend quality time with me (or maybe just sneak a sugary cereal into the cart?), savor my “date nights” with individual kids when we get one-on-one time watching our favorite TV show together, savor that bike ride to the library, savor floating on a tube on Berry Lake while guessing what cloud formation looks like a dragon.
And while there is so much to savor with these incredible human beings whom I adore, I must remember this is just another chapter and I must embrace the change, the growth – not just in them but in myself as well.