They’re growing up.
This sentence makes my stomach do flip flops, as I recently came to realize my babies are no longer ‘babies.’
Oh, yes sure… I know how it goes: they’re always your baby; they never fully grow up; etc. etc. With all that aside the small milestones have begun.
For me of course it began with the losing of the teeth. Yes, I’m that clingy mom that found it heart breaking. “It’s the beginning of the end,” I once told a girlfriend when her eldest lost his first tooth. “Next up his voice will be squeaking. Let’s just not talk about it.”
Admittedly, I’m a bit dramatic in the way of self-expression, but who are we kidding? These are thoughts I’m certain cross every parents mind at some point.
In late February my 8-year-old was invited to his first sleep over. The good news is, the invite came in the way of a last minute text to mommy. Given literally 24 hours until I was to drop him off. He was thrilled and I was thrilled for him. Of course I did offer to pick him up at 10 p.m., just in case he’d rather have a good night’s sleep in his own bed. Naturally, my offer was declined.
Moments before loading his things in the car, my heart began racing. I wasn’t ready. So I did what every rational thinking parent would. I grabbed my camera and began taking pictures. My son beamed as he held his pillow close to his chest. He was going to be fine.
After dropping him off, my daughter and I relished in a ‘Girls Night’ complete with a fast food dinner, candy, pajamas and a DVD of her choice.
As she and I drove home I could not help but see fast forward a few years. Before I knew it they would both be at sleep overs or hanging out with friends. I shared my forethought with my 5-year-old and as I did, I quickly realized “Mommy needs to get a life.”
Once the words left my mouth, the sweetness which my daughter possesses at times came to the forefront.
“Mommy, don’t worry,” she chimed. “I’ll never leave you. I’m your girl forever.”
Those are the moments… the ones I want to freeze as I know what my future will look like as she ages. Naturally, memorable moments for a parent never cease. I still catch my mom taking in her own as she watches me parent her grandchildren. It’s only natural.
It really does just happen all so very fast. Mind you, mine are still just five and eight. I hear the words of my Mentor Moms play in my head often and always. They were right, you do just blink and they are no longer babies.
When I was in college I lost a very dear friend to a tragic car accident. It was one of the most horrific, yet life changing moments of my life. I will never forget the wise words of her grieving mother (who was like a second mother to me).
In so many words she shared that as parents she felt our children are not really ‘ours.’ We are their stewards. The people to which God has trusted to mold them and make them responsible and caring human beings. The ones to care for them, teach them and comfort them but most importantly they are never truly ‘ours.’
She continued by sharing that as they grow, we should always feel great reward and pride. For each step they take is a direct reflection of how we have performed in our stewardship.
Mind you, these were words shared just following the unexpected loss of her child. It is not as it should be that one outlive their children, yet in that moment she possessed such grace and clarity. Her daughter was indeed a testament to parents who were tremendous and A+ stewards. A memorial service which was standing room only, was testament to that. Her life touched many, regardless of the years she spent on earth.
So, now over 20-plus years later, in those moments I remember this. I would love to place those two sweet faces in a bubble and just freeze time, yet at the same time it takes my breath away to think of all that lies ahead.
What a blessing indeed to be able to be chosen as a steward for two pretty unique little people.
Teresa Hammond is circulation manager 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.