From watching my own mother grow older and the increasing number of health issues that she’s facing, to witnessing one of my closest + dearest friends wither away from cancer, to navigating my own health, be it cholesterol or a cranky back, it feels like time is ticking faster + faster. And it’s not just my own health or the health of those around me. As a mother, I feel like time is running out with my children as well. Everyday they continue to morph into these seemingly self-assured, independent, young adults that don’t need me in the same way anymore. There’s no more tucking them into bed at night (at this point, they’re practically tucking me into bed.) And when I’m not yelling at them for leaving their nasty socks on the couch or nagging them to get to practice or finish their homework, I’m secretly mourning the fact that my days with them living in our house are literally numbered. And the cruel irony to all this is that while all I want to do is hold them tighter, I know that I need to start letting go.
My deeper truth is that I’m petrified of running out of time with my kids. I can already sense that sledgehammer to the heart pain that I’ll feel when they’re no longer under my roof. I know because I’ve seen my sister and other close friends go through it; it’s not pretty. I’ve also had my own appetizer sized portion of it last summer, an episode which took me weeks to recover.
It was July but instead of being together on a family vacation, I was smack dab in the middle of Indianapolis with my just turned 16-year-old son at his first big national swim meet. And while you’d think just qualifying would’ve been enough, as most parents know – whether it’s soccer, lacrosse or hockey – when they don’t perform the way they’d envisioned, it can be painful. And that’s when time slammed its door in my face.
Consumed by frustration, self-doubt, and a cocktail of teenage hormones, my son – the one who the school psychologist had to peel out of my arms on the first day of Kindergarten, the same one who later tapped his fingers to his heart, our secret code for saying goodbye – officially declared that he didn’t want me anywhere near him. Lying in his bed, eyes barely visible under his gray hoodie, staring blankly out the window of our JW Marriott, he wouldn’t say a word. He’d been completely silent for what felt like hours, uninterested in my help, my Ted Lasso advice, or any food I could UberEats. With his granola bar wrappers, empty water bottles and last night’s pizza carton spread out around him, my half man, half boy, finally yelled, “Just leave me the fuck alone!”