I confess… I’m a sentimental, sappy mom who borders on the edge of pathetic.
I’m not sure exactly what happened. I wasn’t always this sappy.
I remember when my three kids were young when they melted my heart with their first smile, their first word, and their first unsteady, unsure step. Every high point in my kids’ lives is carefully tucked away as cherished, unforgettable moments that I’ll always hold dear to my heart. And, even though I would never dismiss those treasured moments as somehow less important than any other significant milestone that followed in my kids’ lives, for some reason, the older my kids get the sappier I get.
Am I the only mom who’s now switched from regular to waterproof mascara knowing full well that I might cry at the drop of a hat? Is it normal that I sometimes catch a glimpse of my kids doing something totally mundane, like brushing their teeth, and the next thing I know I’m tearfully studying their profile?
In the real world, I’m strong, capable and, sometimes even stoic, but behind the scene, I’m as mushy as a bowl of warm mashed potatoes.
I used to think it was all hormonal, it had to be. But, now I’m convinced it’s more than that. It’s a sappy (okay, I’ll admit, sometimes pathetic) sentiment that comes from deep within my heart. Almost as though I’m longing for something I miss…
Catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I can’t help but think that maybe the tiny wrinkles around my eyes offer a gentle (and unkind) reminder that I’m not the young mom I once used to be, that life is shifting – not only for my kids, but for me. And maybe too, now that my kids are teenagers, I’m finally seeing the fruit of my labor pay off which is making me as sappy as a sugar maple watching them grow and mature into the wonderful, conscientious, compassionate young adults I always knew they could be.
I mean, let’s face it, I’ve been at the helm of parenting for nearly two decades and the ship is nearing the port. I can actually see it in the distance. And, just like the future, with every passing minute, it’s drawing just that much closer.
Sure, I get it… I’ve had years to prepare and plenty of advance warning. I even had people telling me along the way how fast it would all go, how quickly it would end. But when you’re in the thick of raising your kids, it’s just not something you think about every day. And, you definitely don’t make a conscious effort to prepare for it.
No… this is one of those things in life that just sneaks up on you like a runaway freight train. One minute you’re changing diapers and the next you’re hauling a car full of dorm stuff to college trying to hold back the tears as you bravely wave goodbye acting as if you’re the one with all the strength and wisdom, when in fact you’re feeling just as nervous and anxious as your child.
When my sappy, totally unpredictable moments creep up on me, it’s easy to see why my kids get so darn annoyed with me. What they don’t realize though, and probably won’t really “get” until they become parents of teens themselves, is that the crazy, heart-stopping, sappy love I feel for them is a feeling I just can’t help. And, the older they get, the older I get and the closer we get to the monumental change in our lives that’s closing in on us, the more those fleeting, tender moments rock my heart to the core.
When I got wind of the fact that my daughter had experienced her first kiss, I couldn’t help but shed a sentimental tear. When my middle daughter got behind the wheel of a car and drove off by herself for the first time, I walked back into the house and shed a boat full of (prayerful) tears. And, even when my son, just the other day, aced his interview and landed his first job, a few uninvited tears once again filled my eyes.
I remember too not long ago when both of my daughters were getting ready for prom, with their hair swept up so beautifully and their makeup looking all too grown up. I had to slip away for a moment to wipe away a tear that was rolling down my cheek. But, one of my sappiest moments by far was my daughter’s high school graduation. Just seeing her step across the threshold of the stage to accept her diploma, brought me to my knees (figuratively speaking, that is). I could barely resist the urge to start bawling in the middle of the auditorium.
Every milestone, every important event, and every single last “anything” – from the last formal dance to the last football game – brings us one step closer to change. It’s as if our lives are on this massive conveyer belt, slowly and always moving with no way to stop it and no way to slow it down.
I can’t help but think how the tide has changed…
When my kids were little, they were the ones who held me tight when I slipped out of the house for a gallon of milk fearing that I’d never return. They were the ones who clung to my leg on the day they started preschool, worried that life was changing and somehow they weren’t quite ready for it. When they started middle school, they were the ones who tried their best to hide their fear even though they were anxious and apprehensive about what the future held for them.
Now, just a blink in time later, it’s reversed…
I’m the one holding onto them and every memory for dear life with the fear that they’ll venture off on their own and never return. I’m the one clinging to the beauty of our everyday, normal, sometimes crazy, sometimes boring lives not quite ready for the change that’s just over the horizon. And, I’m the one who’s just a little fearful about the future – not only for them but for me – wondering what it holds for us and what it will be like.
The truth is, like it or not, my kids are growing up… and I suppose, so am I. I don’t have a choice but to grow up.
Knowing that my kids will one day pack up and leave is hard to bare – their messy cluttered rooms clean and stark, the overflowing and completely unorganized pantry orderly and sparse, and the constant noise and clatter of a house full of teenagers quiet and subdued. It’s the reason I shed my sappy sugar maple tears.
It’s the reason I cherish every moment, no matter how brief or insignificant they might seem and the reason I clutch every memory with a closed fist determined never to let it go. It’s also the reason I’m not going to apologize for my tears. Because I know…
I know that every precious moment with my kids is fleeting. The season is changing and soon everything will be different. Wonderful and new, fresh and exciting, but different just the same.
So, if you happen to see me shedding my sappy sugar maple tears, know that they’re tears of joy, tears of love, and wonderful treasured tears of countless memories my kids and I have shared, laughs we’ve had and challenges we’ve endured.
Mostly, my tears are a gift from my heart. Every sappy tear, a gift that reminds me of how special, valuable, wonderful, and unforgettable our lives are. Gifts that offer a reflection of the past and a glimpse of the future. And, yes, they might be sappy, but they’re also sugary and sweet and they hold a lifetime of memories that lead straight to my heart.
It’s time for you to fly now… I’ll be here when you need to rest your wings.~ Mom
Originally posted on : Raising Teens Today
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