It seems like yesterday my kids were these delicious little gremlins, reminiscent of cute Anne Geddes photographs as they sat in their strollers, and everything I needed to keep them happy and safe was in a compact diaper bag.
But, like everything else in life, things change...
Somewhere along the line, I traded in my diaper genie for a chauffeur's cap and joined the ranks of other suburban moms ferrying their children around from place to place. Oh, the destinations changed as the years flew by, moving from kiddie parties and mite hockey games to, "Just drop me off at the mall," and "Mom, I need a new dress for the dance," and "My hockey team is going to Lake Placid to skate the Olympic ice!"
However, all of that pales in comparison the day they turn to you and ask,"Mom, can you teach me to drive?"
If you're like me, you pretend you didn't hear them. Of course, the reality is you did hear them, but your head is swimming and you're suddenly incapable of coherent speech. You muster every conceivable argument you can find to try and stave off the inevitable, but it's a lost cause. Life just took sharp curve and pushed you out of the driver's seat...literally.
As you fight panic, along with nausea and nail-biting at the fear of everything that can and will go wrong, you stop and take a deep breath.You look at your child and find yourself muttering about where time has gone, baffled at how your beautiful, little baby grew into this gorgeous teenager, ready to take the helm and start their own life's journey.
And then it hits you. Besides the worry churning in your stomach, a cold reality dawns it is no longer your time, but theirs. The spotlight has shifted and you've been directed to exit stage right. It's a sobering moment. For me, my maternal worry was followed by an immediate sense of loss, of suddenly not being needed, of growing old. But I looked at my kids and amazingly it dissipated, replaced by an overwhelming sense of pride and unconditional love.
I guess this is what my parents meant when they said, "One day you''ll understand."
The truth of it is we were all on that same threshold at some point. Every one of us has war stories and glory days, and most of us can easily recall our own teenage battle cries, our zest for life in all its forms, regardless of consequence. The memories maybe soft and hazy with nostalgia, but catch yourself talking with friends, especially ones who knew you when, and watch the smiles blossom. They might be embarrassed, 'what was I thinking' sort of smiles, but still chuckle-worthy.
Now it's our children poised at the starting gate and no matter how much our fingers clutch at the air, we need to let them go. We need to have faith in them and in the lessons we've taught, however flawed. It's their time. Their rite of passage. We need to let them sound their own battle cry and run, fists raised into life, to make their own mistakes, their own memories, and all we can do is pray they don't get caught in the crossfire.
I taught my kids everything, from how to talk and walk, to how to reach for their dreams. It may no longer be my time in the spotlight, but it's certainly my time to watch my children soar, knowing I'll always be there for them regardless of the thuds along the way.
Originally posted on my blog 'Madcap Moms...What's Wrong with this Picture' April 17 2012