making room

I’m staring down the last few months of my life as “stay-home mother”. Granted, in reality, that role shifted years ago to make room for this me, now coming into fruition. It’s hard to let go, though.

Driving to the airport today, I’m chatting with my teenager when I realize my newly-six-year  old is reading in the back seat. Full-on;  sounding out “hammer” and “amazing” and “teeth” and reading out loud a book about sharks. I knew he was making leaps with his literacy. He set it as his Kindergarten goal. “This is the year I will learn how to read”, he said the night before his first day, back in September. And he has. And I’m impressed because he’s ready and reading, yes, but more impressed that he set a goal for himself and now basks in his accomplishment. I’m beaming and proud and also strangely sad. Not sad, really, more just a twinge of some heartache I can’t quite describe.

He doesn’t understand my need to hold him on my lap while we’re waiting at the airport. He doesn’t know the longing I have to keep him small for one more moment. He tolerates my hugs and gets silly when I let him raspberry my cheek, but for me, this moment holds nearly fourteen years of mothering. It’s like the stories you hear people tell after a brush with death: “my whole life flashed before my eyes”, except it’s life and it’s vignettes of me and my boys I’m seeing.

The reality is that raising children marks time in extreme ways. They literally change, moment to moment: visually and markedly. Last summer, my oldest was eye to eye with me at 5’11”. I said to him “I think this might be the year you grow taller than me”. By the end of the summer, he had an inch on me and now at the beginning of this spring, he’s nearly 6’2″. I realize the goal is healthy, inter- and independent children who go off to seek their fortune. I realize a measure of mothering well-done is in the letting go.

But for just this moment, I want to stop time. I want to filter through every mundane moment home with my boys and savor it anew. And I see now that it’s not heartbreak and it’s not letting go. Just as my boys are growing and changing in remarkably ordinary ways, so too am I. My roles change, yes. I make room for school and work and community in ways which are much different from how they’ve been up ’til now. And within the role of “mother”, I change. I make room for these boys as they manifest before my eyes into the beautiful men they will become. And as I cherish the privilege of mothering, I realize there’s nothing to let go of, really. Time moves forward no matter how tightly I hold onto a hug in the airport. The grace comes in allowing it, seeing it, acknowledging it and loving it for the moment in time that it is.

And so things shift and grow. And that twinge of heartache is simply my life making room for us as we are. It is welcoming this me, now coming into fruition.

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5 Comments on “making room”

  1. Mindy Says:

    Amazing Susan. With having three boys myself, and my youngest venturing off to college this fall, I have felt so many of the same emotions you have written about. These are the emotions and times when you know that you have done a remarkable job as a mother; without these thoughts, you would be just any old mother. Cherish them daily….they will be better men for it.

  2. Jodi Says:

    Beautifully written Susan! I just read a book called The Gift of an Ordinary Day by Katrina Kennison. It’s about her boys going off to college and her struggles with everything you just wrote about. I found it inspiring, uplifting, amazing! Your words are so true, you are blessed and so are they :)

  3. Lisa Flynn Says:

    Beautiful. Your boys are amazingly blessed.

  4. Amy/The PranaMama Says:

    Beautiful post Susan – you said everything that’s been on my mind for the past 5 weeks but have had no time nor energy to say in words! Have a newborn again, while watching my older (OLDER? at 3 and 6!) is a strange experience. When they were little I was in the throws of diapers, breastfeeding, tantrums and overall messiness, and all I could think about was how much better things would be when they got older. Now, I look at my 5-week-old and then look at them, and think, how fast it all changes. I am cherishing every moment – and I can honestly say that. It’s easier getting up 3 times a night because I know for certain it doesn’t last. Bravo to you and all you’ve done as a single mom, your boys are amazing! Thanks for the reminder to slow down and enjoy motherhood. :)


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