“The days are long, but the years are short.” Gretchen Rubin
“And just like that, my youngest is a senior…”My friend’s words, appearing on my laptop screen, snap me out of my social medial reverie.
My youngest is a senior too…just like that.
I glance toward his bedroom door, and I feel that if I open it, I may discover my precious fair-haired two-year-old curled into a ball with his favorite stuffed animals strewn around him. Oh, how I’d love to slip back in time, just for a moment, to see him open his baby blues and grin widely upon seeing my face. Instead, a lanky teenager now hibernates behind the door.
Just like that.
Just like holding my breath month after month, hoping to see two pink lines appear on the pregnancy test; nine months of morning sickness that refuse to relent; middle-of-the-night feedings, and soft, sleepy words whispered mother-to-son as we rock back and forth.
Just like a crowded bed, learning to balance on six inches of the mattress edge, while he nestles between his dad and me and forgets the terror of a bad dream. His spine presses against mine as his feet push into Tim’s ribs.
Just like an overflowing bathtub as his brother and he disappear into a mountain of soapsuds; the bubble gum-scented air fills with the sound of their laughter as they form long, trailing beards of white fluff.
Just like sleepless nights, sleepovers, and stories at bedtime; playdates, birthday parties, and piano lessons with Mimi; chemistry class, band camp, and crunch week for musical theater; field trips, beach trips, and trips to faraway lands.
Just like his first loose tooth, his first day of preschool, his first trip to the E.R., his first week at summer camp, his first pair of glasses, his first time to drive a car, his first date, his first college visit, and his last “first” day of school.
Just like that.
Just like a handful of seeds thrown across soil, these moments seemed to scatter quickly, disappearing into the dark, rich dirt. Yet, I can clearly see where each one fell and took root.
Secure attachment began during those midnight feedings and cozy nights in a cramped queen-size bed. A brotherly bond grew in moments of laughter, whimsy, and play. Creativity was cultivated by favorite toys, books, movies, and games. Talent was noticed and nurtured at the keyboard and drums. Intellect was aroused in labs, museums, classrooms, and conversations. Resilience increased with a change of school, the loss of friends, and the experience of sitting on the sidelines. Courage flourished with each and every “first.” And a sense of adventure was stoked during camping trips, summer camp, road trips, and world travel.
I served as more than a mere witness. I, along with his father, tilled the soil, watched where seeds fell, watered the fertile ground, protected new and tender growth, and provided care as strong roots were established. Along the way, the Master Gardener faithfully tended to us, cultivating our hearts and showing us how to steward this soul to which we’ve been entrusted. In the process, I grew too. I grew my capacity to attune intuitively, to love sacrificially, to live courageously, to show vulnerability, to ask for forgiveness, to exercise patience, to pray without ceasing, and to let go increasingly.
And just like that, the time to release has come. I carefully reach into the rich soil and begin to dig. Slowly, I work my fingers into the dirt, working apart any clumps, until they are deep enough to gently free the roots. As I do, I sense the Master Gardener’s nearness, prompting me to appreciate the intricate design of my son, to observe the emerging growth, and to trust that he has become hardy and mature. Just like that, I know that his roots are strong and he is ready to thrive, no matter where he is planted next.
A lover of story, Susan Tucker has always been captivated by beautiful writing. She is drawn to themes of tension, joy/grief, hope/loss, freedom/shame, which she explores in her own writing. Susan spends her days teaching middle school English, mothering her two teenage sons, and loving her husband of 25 years. She cherishes her first cup of coffee each morning, moments of quiet and solitude, restorative yoga, worship music, and faithful friends.nbsp