There’s value in the knowing. As simple as this may sound, it’s a thought which has played in my head time and time again the past few weeks.
Prompted by a simple phrase we say so much, yet still find hard to fathom – don’t blink. As parents we sit stunned looking at past photos of our children, their cheeks once chubby, voices high pitched and eyes wide with wonder more times than not.
For those like myself our current stage, the teen years caught me off guard absolutely and completely. I still recall the day I heard my son’s mature voice come down the hallway, after watching this young man walk that very hall from behind. As he exited his room one morning and headed down the hall, I remember feeling stunned by this vision. His body no longer husky and soft, now long and lean with a gait to match. Then he spoke. His voice no longer sweet and innocent, now strong and manly. Where did he go – I wondered.
His sister naturally followed suit a few years later. Capturing a photo of her on a random day, I still remember the double take of looking at her face. Now longer and leaner, features more defined. The transformation from baby face to tween right there in a photo.
For those who follow this space, my connection and appreciation for my children I know comes as no surprise. This week, however, my thoughts are with the parents who now live in the fragile moments of summer as their children prepare to leave for college, the armed forces or an adventure away.
Oh sure, mine are just 11 and 14, so how could I possibly understand. In short – I can’t; well, at least not completely. Perhaps it’s fair to also say, this one is for the reader like me – the single parent. The parent who shares custody with another and the challenges that brings.
For those looking for the drama here, the pity party or the criticism of my children’s father you won’t find it. The relationship I have with their father is one I’ve learned to not just value, but rely on. While we are no longer a “couple” in the traditional sense, the fact will forever remain that we are the mother and father of two wonderful humans. We are in fact their (the children’s) “couple” of parents. That sticks forever.
So late last week, our children set off for an adventure with their father and his family. Just as our summer vacation seemed to begin here in Oakdale, it quickly ended as I watched them board a plane headed for Denver, Colorado. It is our first summer apart and as hard as it was for me to watch them board that plane, I also know its value.
My first words to my mother every time my children leave are the same: being selfless is hard. It’s funny, because I would hardly describe myself as a selfish person. Yet when it comes to my children and watching them take on the world, that side creeps up.
Days before they left, the three of us had some wonderful heart to heart conversation. As we did, I realized (out loud) that the years they spend under my roof pale in comparison to the adult years which lie ahead of them. That stunned us all.
The good news of course, is we still have time before that happens. And yes of course, they will always be my babies. As I watched them board that plane however I thought of the aforementioned parents.
As the parents, it is not just our job but our purpose to raise responsible, respectful, independent humans ready to take on the world. As we do – we blink and as we blink while we know what’s to come it’s still not easy.
So here’s to the parents living through summer, knowing what’s up ahead. There is indeed value in knowing not just that we’ve blinked but that we’ve done our job by way of our humans. Cheers to selfless parenting.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.