I used to wish time away. You know, wish for the days my kids would sleep through the night, be out of diapers, old enough to drive themselves to school. But as my oldest son gets ready to start his senior year of high school, all of a sudden I desperately wish that time would slow down…or better yet, stop completely. The problem is that wishing is not halting the inevitable hands of time – the same hands that patted my boy’s back until he fell asleep, taught him to go potty, helped him navigate the streets of our town.
I have been spending my entire summer telling myself daily, “Next year at this time, he’ll be [this many] days away from the dreaded college drop off goodbye.” This is usually followed with a hefty swig of uneasiness…and wine, lots and lots of wine! Then one day, while trying to locate old childhood photos of my boy and pooh-poohing the younger me who didn’t keep all these scrapbooks up to date, I had an epiphany: “You can’t stop time, and you can’t get any of these moments back once they’ve passed. All you can really do is accept that this is part of life; it is what being a parent is all about.”
Acceptance is a life-changing behavior to master, and I say this as someone who has yet to master it. When traffic comes to a standstill on I-4, I’m the person smashing her head against the steering wheel and crying out, “You gotta be kidding me!” But, when we accept, we can see things, people and situations for what they are, how they are, and who they are! Then and only then can we love them purely and eventually let them go.
I’m guilty of this resistance to accept, perhaps more than anyone I know. The list of things I tell myself I can’t accept is massive, ranging from the improper hanging of the toilet paper roll (for goodness sake, people, OVER not UNDER) to the very existence of flying cockroaches (yuck!). Every item on the list of things I can’t seem to accept is another trigger of frustration. This has had a profound impact on my health, happiness and even my marriage. Who wants to be married to a constant complainer forever grumbling that her feet kind of hurt? For that matter, who wants to be that lady, or have her as their mother?
My goal is to accept the fact that, like it or not, my kids are growing up. Sure, I will meticulously detail all the “LASTS” of my son’s senior year on social media with exclamation marks, happy face emojis and “LOLs” to balance out the conflicting emotions brewing inside me. Yes, my heart will ache a bit (or even more than a bit), but I will keep reminding myself how exciting and wonderful all these “lasts” are. My hope is that by accepting that these are the “LASTS,” I will be able to appreciate all the extraordinary “FIRSTS” that are coming our way.
Sharon Fuentes is an award-winning freelance writer, special needs parenting advisor and the author of the book, The Don’t Freak Out Guide to Parenting Kids with Asperger’s. You can reach her at email@example.com.