We did all the shopping. We made sure we got bedding for an extra-long twin bed. We stocked up on snack food and made sure to reserve one of those tiny refrigerators. We talked about how to deal with a difficult roommate and to never walk home alone. We stocked up on batteries. We opened a student banking account and talked about responsible spending. We packed the car and headed out on the three hour journey. When we arrived we took a tour of the campus. We went to the book store and bought all the books and then we headed out to lunch. Somehow I knew that when that lunch was over the real journey was going to begin, so I may have ordered dessert just to stall it for a little while longer.
When we arrived back at the dorm my father grabbed me and hugged me for longer than usual. He claimed to have something in his eye and then he told my mother he would wait at the car for her. She turned to me and told me to study hard, call them every single day, and know that no matter what I could always come home. I hugged her and told her she was embarrassing me, but the truth is as I watched them walk away I felt fear like I had never felt before that moment. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was a fear of the unknown. I was about to embark on a journey without my parents for the first time and it was exciting, but it was also scary. The real truth is she wasn’t embarrassing me and neither was my dad. I just needed them to think they were so that I could hold it together. That one day in my life gave me the gift of perspective to carry with me into the future.
Where does the time go? It’s the universal question of parents everywhere because honestly the time goes faster than you could ever imagine. I know this because it feels like yesterday when my very own parents were dropping me off at college, yet here I am with two children of my own desperately trying to slow time down just a little.
The concept of slowing time down will seem foreign to you for a long time. You are going to spend a great amount of time trying to rush to the next step. I know this because I have been there. I promise you I have. It was the moment I held you that I realized there was a reason to want time to slow down, even if only for a moment.
I know when the day comes to drop you off somewhere to venture off on a journey all of your own, I will inevitably get something in my eye and need to go to the car, so here is what I want you to know.
I’m not sorry I made you take a picture every year on the first day of school with a sign that told me and your father what you wanted to be when you grew up. Sure I got the idea from Pinterest (which may or may not exist at this point) but there is nothing that could replace the fact that you wanted to be a Power Ranger when you were four or a tree trimmer when you were six. These are facts about you that may seem silly to you, but they are amazing to me. You see; looking back at your Power Ranger stage brings me back in time and I feel so lucky that I get to feel that every now and then.
I will not apologize for taking a picture of you every time you put that firefighter costume on and ran around the backyard pretending to save the city.
I also won’t apologize for taking pictures of you and your brother in matching outfits at Christmas. Sorry boys that’s just part of childhood.
I know there were times you wanted to say to me “Mom enough with all the pictures!” and perhaps in the future you will actually say that, but I want you to know I’m still going to take them.
When you lost your first tooth? Click. When you potty trained? Click. When you hugged each other? Click. You see I knew back then that time was going much faster than I wanted it to and I decided I was going to capture as much as I could. Whether you realize it now or not, all those small moments made you who you are. The silly times, the disappointments, the achievements, the family, those we lost and those we gained; they all made you who you are.
It was our little world-if only for a moment. It was a world full of play, laughter, spills, tears and exhaustion yet somehow I knew it was a world I wanted to capture.
You see my beautiful boys, time is a weird thing. It has a way of moving so slowly when you’re in a rush and speeding up when you aren’t.
So live it. Breathe it. Don’t wish it away, but don’t expect it to stop, and one day when I stand in front of you in front of a bunch of other college kids and I hug you and tell you everything you mean to me, hug me back and tell me I am embarrassing you. Through my tears I will see you. I will see the real you and I will know that you are about to embark on the unknown. I will know that a part of you is going to miss the Power Ranger days too. I will also know that I am embarrassing you and I am going to take one more picture to capture it. After all, our story lies within all the pictures and one day you are going to want to read this story all over again.