Last weekend my second child walked across a stage, flipped a tassel to the left side of his cap and walked out of that gymnasium an adult. I spent most of the last year crying every time I thought about that day, so I guess I had run out of tears by the time graduation day came. While I did get misty and spent a few moments looking through the blur of welled up tears, I did not sob or cry hysterically like I imagined I would. I did not need an entire box of tissues or an IV to rehydrate after the ceremony. Mostly, I just sat and grinned like the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland. Seeing someone accomplish something big that they have worked so very hard for makes me SO PROUD. (And it helps that every time my son looked up into the stands at our family, he had a grin that lit up the room!)
After the excitement faded, my husband and I were having a conversation about two of our kids and he made a passing comment about how they’re both adults. It stopped both of us in our tracks and we had to pause for a minute. Seriously? How did we get to this point in life where two of our three children are of age and out of high school? The oldest has not lived at home in nearly two years, but somehow she’s still my baby, right? Sure, I feel ancient some days, so having grown kids shouldn’t be such a surprise, but other days it seems like just yesterday that they were all babies. Where did the time go?
Sometimes life slows to a drag and you feel like this stage you’re in, this valley you’re facing, this struggle or heartache will pull you under, but I promise it won’t. And before you know it, it’ll be five years down the road and you’ll be remembering that tough season and relishing how far you’ve come since then.
That’s how parenting feels sometimes. There are ages and stages that feel like they will never end. Those hard first couple of years when physical exhaustion is at an all-time high, the elementary and middle years when sibling rivalry threatens to make you rip your hair out, and the teen years that keep you worried twenty-four seven come to mind most readily. But it’s different for every family. Regardless of how long those seasons seem to last, the reality is that the years we have our kids at home is so short. While I know some moms of little ones will want to slap me for saying this, it really is true: relish those years, they pass so quickly.
In a couple months, our last baby will begin her own senior year of high school. Before we know it, we’ll be back in that arena watching the last of our precious loves walking across the stage. Just like that (snap!) our parenting of “children” will be over. I can’t think about it too much now. I’m not sure I’m quite ready for all the ‘lasts’ coming this next year. But I suspect, ready or not, here they come!