Lately I’ve really noticed that we’ve moved into a different stage of life and I think we’ve been here for a while but don’t want to admit it because that means we are all getting older. We are no longer the couple in their late 20’s/early 30’s with small children at home, filled with busy days and quiet evenings. My days are no longer full of play dates, trying to grocery shop with 3 little kids, working around nap schedules and looking forward to adult conversation after being surrounded by little people all day. When we still had a preschooler I could sort of pretend that I was a young mom with little kids, even though my oldest was in junior high. Then last year I was hit with the shock of all 4 kids in school all day and adjusting to being a mom without kids home during the day, a lonely year for me of figuring out my new season of mothering.
This September we have 4 kids in 3 different schools, elementary, junior high and high school. HIGH SCHOOL people! How do I have a high schooler? It seems not a lot of moms blog about this season of life, when the kids are in school, when you have older kids and time is quickly slipping through the hour glass and you wonder if you’ve done your job, teaching them all they need to know.
This new season of life has my days now pretty quiet and our evenings are busy. There are some benefits I suppose, like grocery shopping alone and not having to work around nap schedules. And yet I find myself missing pushing toddlers around the store with sippy cups and snacks packed in a diaper bag. I miss the little voices saying cute things and needing my help to buckle in their car seats. Now my days are filled with errands, volunteering at school, helping out at MOPS as a Mentor Mom, running kids to orthodontist appointments, the occasional coffee date with friends and of course laundry and cleaning. After school is when the real crazy times begin with sports, church activities, oh and lots of homework. Before you know it, bedtime has arrived. But instead of stories and snuggles, it’s a hug and kiss goodnight and they are off to their big kid beds, no snuggles or stories needed from us. Heck, sometimes they go to bed later than we do. Even the first grader is getting too big for bedtime stories, he is into chapter books now and said it’s time for his little kid books to leave his room.
In a flash it’s gone so quickly, just like they said it would be. You know those “older” adults that stop you and admire your baby or toddler, with a whistful smile telling you to enjoy them, it goes so fast. Like a snow ball rolling down a hill, faster and faster they grow, the days quickly spinning into another. If only the snowball could slow down a little, giving us time to marvel at it’s size and shape before morphing into something different, barely letting us get a handle on one season before being rolled into the next.
I think of this poem by Karen Kingsbury and how true the words are, all of a sudden, you turn around and your toddler is taller than you, asking if you can go shopping together for a dress for homecoming when you are trying to remember the last time they wore their princess dress up dress. And just like that, in a few more short years, I’ll be blogging about another new season of mothering again, sending kids off to write their own story. Motherhood, always changing and growing, learning to navigate the joys and challenges as the kids grow and eventually fly our nest. I remember when high school seemed so far off in the distance for us, that someday has arrived and I am going to grab ahold of this new season and enjoy it all, thankful for these gifts that God has given us.
Let Me Hold You Longer
By Karen Kingsbury
Long ago you came to me,
a miracle of firsts:
First smiles and teeth and baby steps,
a sunbeam on the burst.
But one day you will move away
and leave to me your past,
And I will be left thinking of
a lifetime of your lasts . . .
The last time that I held a bottle
to your baby lips.
The last time that I lifted you
and held you on my hip.
The last night when you woke up crying,
needing to be walked,
When last you crawled up with your blanket
wanting to be rocked.
The last time when you ran to me,
still small enough to hold.
The last time that you said you’d marry
me when you grew old.
Precious, simple moments and
bright flashes from your past –
Would I have held on longer if
I’d known they were your last?
Our last adventure to the park,
your final midday nap,
The last time when you wore your favorite
faded baseball cap.
Your last few hours of kindergarten,
those last days of first grade.
Your last at bat in Little League,
last colored picture made.
I never said good-bye to all
your yesterdays long passed.
So what about tomorrow –
will I recognize your lasts?
The last time that you catch a frog
in that old backyard pond.
The last time that you run barefoot
across our fresh-cut lawn.
Silly, scattered images
will represent your past.
I keep on taking pictures,
never quite sure of your lasts . . .
The last time that I comb your hair
or stop a pillow fight.
The last time that I pray with you
and tuck you in at night.
The last time when we cuddle
with a book, just me and you.
The last time you jump in our bed
and sleep between us two.
The last piano lesson,
last vacation to the lake.
Your last few weeks of middle school
last soccer goal you make.
I look ahead and dream of days
that haven’t come to pass.
But as I do, I sometimes miss
today’s sweet, precious lasts . . .
The last time that I help you with
a math or spelling test.
The last time when I shout that yes,
your room is still a mess.
The last time that you need me for
a ride from here to there.
The last time that you spend the night
with your old tattered bear.
My life keeps moving faster,
stealing precious days that pass.
I want to hold on longer –
want to recognize your lasts . . .
The last time that you need my help
with details of a dance.
The last time that you ask me for
advice about romance.
The last time that you talk to me
about your hopes and dreams.
The last time that you wear a jersey
for your high school team.
I’ve watched you grow and barely noticed
seasons as they pass.
If I could freeze the hands of time,
I’d hold on to your lasts.
For come some bright fall morning,
you’ll be going far away.
College life will beckon
in a brilliant sort of way.
One last hug, one last good-bye,
one quick and hurried kiss.
One last time to understand
just how much you’ll be missed.
I’ll watch you leave and think how fast
our time together passed.
Let me hold on longer, God, to every precious last.