Savor the moments. Every mom has heard that they should enjoy each minute, that they will miss these days someday. Not really. There are moments I miss, but overall, I have no desire to go back in time.
I am beyond thrilled to be past the stage where I need to carry a diaper bag everywhere or rent a U-Haul to carry the necessary items (the portable bed, booster chair, stroller and toys) to keep all of the kids safe and occupied (and the adults sane) for a week-long trip. I am excited to not have to plan out activities to make everyone happy during school breaks. I am happy to not have my every moment dictated by my children’s activity and social calendar. I am happy to be done with much of the chaos, but I am nostalgic for bits and pieces of those days.
I miss the soft snuggles while my baby drifts off to sleep, the gentle pats while nursing. I miss the goofy grins while telling knock- knock jokes. I miss seeing the lightbulb go off when something clicks and a concept is mastered. I miss having a small person reach up to grab my hand in the park. I miss being able to make things better with a kiss and a hug.
I remember many days where I wished they were all self-sufficient, that I could have just a moment to do what I wanted. I won’t say I regret those wishes, because I don’t. I love that all my kids can now do things for themselves. I also love that there are days that they ask me to do things for them anyway. I love that despite the fact that we all know they are grown-ups, I still get to be Mom.
From this side, the time went fast. One day I was getting things for my son that he couldn’t reach. I blinked and now he is getting stuff off the top shelf for me. I was opening his yogurt, and blink, he is opening stubborn jars for me. One day I was brushing my daughters’ hair and helping them dress and I blinked; now they are giving me makeup and fashion tips. I was a sounding board for their thoughts and dreams and helped them talk through relationships. Blink, now they are giving me advice.
A week from now, my two youngest will be back at college. My routine will shift again; the dog will mope, the house will be quieter, I will have to readjust meal planning. (We will likely have too many leftovers for the first week or so.) I will notice something left behind and have to determine whether it is needed enough to mail or can wait until Parents’ Weekend. I will again have unlimited use of my van and uninterrupted time at my computer.
I have been in this place before, so I know what to expect, but it is always an adjustment. In some ways, having college kids home for break is like having company visit for an extended time. The daily routine has been altered and in some ways it is nice to get back to “normal.” But they are not company; in fact, for most of their lives they have almost been an extension of me (and in earlier years, crawling all over me, they also looked like it). I am conflicted.
Of course it won’t be long before we are all used to the new routine. There will be texts and phone calls and lists of what to bring at the next visit. They will be happy for us to visit and just as happy to see us go.
The push and pull is a constant, on both sides. They still need parents, but less than they used to. They are growing up and away, yet still holding on. We are letting go while reassuring them we are still here. The precious reminders of the special bond we still share are still there, yet they are more fleeting.
And we are reminded again to savor the moments.