I stand in the kitchen with plates of pancakes, bacon, and eggs. An hour ago I knocked on bedroom doors to announce I was making breakfast. “Okay,” came three sleepy replies.
A half hour ago I yelled upstairs to announce it was all ready.
Now I am texting pictures of breakfast, which is now lunch, to their cell phones, which they look at with blurry, sleep-filled eyes.
It will be another half hour before anyone comes down to the kitchen. By then it is cold. Or mostly eaten by their pre-teen brother. Or the dogs. Or put down the garbage disposal.
I’m not upset by the meal I spent time making. The wasted time is my fault, really. I should know better by now. This is nothing new for my 18, 16, and 14-year-old sons.
It’s just that sometimes I miss being with them.
I fondly remember the summers of the past, of the constant togetherness and activity. So many little boys with so much energy had to be kept busy. We had our routine every summer. The places we’d go, the classes we’d take, the camps, the pool-filled days.
Eventually, they would remind me when we hadn’t been to a certain place or engaged in a certain activity, and I loved that they were so excited about it.
But, they all got older. Friends and gaming took the place of the zoo and mom. Work schedules, sports camps, and girlfriends all took priority over time with family.
I know this is how life is supposed to be. I know it’s our job to raise them and then set them free. I will. When they are ready, I will make myself ready, too.
But now, right now, this summer . . . I feel jipped. I feel jilted by the fact that no one told me I’d feel this way.
That I would miss them so much while they are still under my roof.
The little boys who once would not stop talking and plotting with one another and giggling past bedtime, now barely mumble to each other and never tell me anything. “There’s nothing to tell,” they say at the dinner table between woofing down bites of food and getting back to whatever it is they do behind closed doors in their rooms.
Darn it, those old ladies, who were probably the age I am now, were right. As I was wrangling four little boys under the age of five up the church steps, they’d say, “Enjoy it. It goes so fast.” I’d smile and think to myself that I just wanted them all to be able to get in and out of the car independently.
Now, they leave daily in their own cars, and I worry every second they are gone.
I’m not ready for them to be gone yet. They’re physically still here, but yet not. Hubby always told me the baby and toddler years were the easy ones. “It’ll only get harder from here.”
I never believed him, but now I do. I’m living it.
The other day, I begged my family to come with me to see a new park our city built downtown. The 18-year-old wanted to play golf and the 16-year-old had already taken his girlfriend to see it, so Hubby and the younger two came with me.
We had a blast. The boys giggled and played like kids, while Hubby and I watched and laughed along. I overheard the 14-year-old telling the 11-year-old that we’d get ice cream afterward.
“That’s what we always used to do,” he said. “You probably don’t remember, but that’s what we would do.”
Then he turned to me and said, “We were always busy every summer. We went somewhere, like, every day.”
I laughed and replied, “Not every day, but we did a lot of things.”
“Yeah, we did, Mom. We always had great summers. You made sure we did.” Before running off again, he squeezed my shoulder (the teenage boy’s hug!).
It’s then I realized that while for me it’s gone by so fast, for them it’s still happening.
We are still making memories in these rare moments when someone decides to come with me on one of my silly adventures, or we all happen to want to see the same movie and debate its merits afterward. When we joke and laugh at dinner, or I make a new dish that becomes a favorite. The times they remind Hubby and me of a long-forgotten family tradition.
Or they thank us for being great parents.
No one told me they’d do that when they were teenagers. But I think I really like that part.