Family / Narratives

Marching Away From Me

Younger Son’s band marched in our town’s holiday parade last weekend. In fact, they were the “closers”, followed only by a hook & ladder fire truck with Santa perched on top. Being a loyal groupie, of course I wanted to attend the parade, but we had just returned home from a long Thanksgiving road trip, so I didn’t want to sit through the whole thing. I planned to arrive just in time to catch the band. Well, my timing was off and I nearly missed them! I could hear the cadence of the drums as a I parked a few blocks away. I broke into a run toward the parade route.

They were already marching forward as I approached, all of them looking so polished and dignified in their royal blue and black uniforms, marching in perfect synchronicity. I had to run to keep up with them, but it seemed the faster I ran, the quicker they marched. I could never catch up. On they marched, until I became tired (and felt a bit silly chasing after them). They continued on their way, marching happily as they played their Christmas song, not noticing me in the least. I chose to stand still on the sidewalk, drinking in their final moments until they faded from sight.

It was such a blatant metaphor of life with my teenage sons that I nearly burst into tears on the spot.

Image Credit: James Reddington

Raising two little boys is no easy task. I learned through experience that it’s not for the faint-of-heart. Mommy’s energy is fully spent well before theirs. Some days seem to stretch into eternity. One rainy day before my boys were old enough to go to school, I remember glancing at the clock while we were trapped inside the house. It was only 2:30pm. “How are we going to make it to dinnertime?” I wondered.

But, a funny thing happened when the boys started high school. Suddenly, our time together became finite and limited. An exact number of days. A countdown. Rather than feeling that endless and even luxurious stretch of time, instead I feel panicked. Because time is running out. They are like trying to capture water or grains of sand in my hand, impossible to hold there forever. Eventually, the handful slips away. I want my children to grow into happy,  healthy adults, but watching it happen in front of my eyes is bittersweet.

While all this is going on inside mommy, the opposite happens with the teenagers. I want to hoard every single moment, but they are making other plans (and then asking me to drive them there!). They are all about friends, activities, friends. They are focused on asserting their independence and stretching their wings.

Roots and wings. I understand the importance of cultivating both in one’s children. But is it selfish to want to clip those wings, just a teeny bit, so they won’t fly quite so far away from their nest? What if I haven’t imparted all the necessary wisdom they’ll need during their flight? How can 18 years together possibly be enough time? Who decided on that number anyway?

Some things I know with certainty. First, they will be ready to launch before I am ready to let them go. I simply must accept that fact. Second, time marches on, which is a blessing, a gift. For now, I’m marching with my boys in the parade, thrilled to take every step possible alongside them. Soon, I will become that spectator on the sidewalk, grateful for the chance just to watch them march by.

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15 thoughts on “Marching Away From Me

  1. Pingback: Blogging for Joy | Prayers and Piazzas

  2. As I sit here on my son’s 8th birthday, it seems that time has flown by and I was just bringing him home from the hospital (as we discussed his real birthday “time” this morning at breakfast). Sometimes, I just want to take their wings “off”, but know that giving them more feathers will help them to soar higher, but hopefully not too far away 🙂 Thanks for the post of reminding us to take in every moment even during some of these busy times.

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  3. I’m a band parent with a freshman in high school, and the oldest returning from her first semester in college. I was also fortunate enough to be their eighth grade math teacher, so watching them and all their friends “march” into adulthood is a bit sad, seeing them both succeed beyond anything we could have hoped for more than makes up for it. “Skype Sunday” helps a lot too!

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  4. Oh my gosh Stacy, I feel this everyday…..time slipping by. Especially as I am busier with work and gone more. I just want to hug and hold the boys more (although it is very hard to hold a 5’10, 170 pound boy in my arms!).

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  5. Hey! You stole my column,…just kidding. For one thing I’m a guy with two boys and you are very probably younger than I but your words resonate with me as I have watched my sons go off to college. I celebrate my birthday one the same day as a very good friend. One her 50th we were all going dancing. She looked over and asked, “What’s the difference be tween 50 and sixty George?” I replied. a blink of the eye! You don’t mention whether you are raising them alone or not but if so I cannot imagine how. My wife and I spent every weekend through their hogh school days at one event or game and still feel as though they ran away from us. Being a guy I want to see them become men yet my heart aches when they return to school from a visit. God Blees you for doing what you do. (Sorry, I also made theis a column.).

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    • Hi George! Thank you so much for your reply/column! 🙂 Love all that you shared, especially the part about the difference is the blink of an eye. Very well said. My husband and I are fortunate to be raising our beloved boys together; every day a gift. I look forward to your perspective on the topic of watching kiddos grow up when you write & publish it! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! Blessings to you.

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