In the blink of an eye, life changes, and it’s often not until we look back that we realize how much it has. My kids are growing up. We’ve change. It’s when we are stepping into the next stage of life that a bit of melancholy settles in about what has passed.
My grammy Frances always said that “Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer to end it gets, the faster it goes.” Think about it…so true, right?
I waited (or perhaps resisted) having children but when I did, I was ALL IN!
I always desired to be the best at whatever I did, often with an intensity that turned people off.
For example, it took me a couple of decades to realize why kids in school didn’t like me, why I was voted for school president, class president or class representative, but voted class brown-noser. Nice, huh? And yes, I did run for all three student government positions, three different weeks in a row during my senior year of high school. I have to admit that my three political campaigns—all unique accompanied by a slogan, posters and a school speech—were impressive. Still, it required a popular vote, so I lost.
Fast-forward to my tenth year of marriage when I finally became a mother, and if I might add, a darn good one at that. I researched the best birthing options, the benefits of attachment parenting, and made my own baby food. I stimulated my children’s brains with classical music, and as the second and third babies came along, I decided to keep them home for preschool. Of course, I had to overachieve and created “Zimmerman Preschool” along with a full curriculum, school hours, and lots of field trips. (I am exhausted just writing all of this.)
When the time came for formal school, I was vigilant in my quest for the best kindergarten. I found it—a tiny, private Christian school that had a classical methodology. The school did not take
any government funding (which I also loved—independent thinkers abound!) The consequence of this independence required that I drive my young son, the first to venture into this institutionalized experience, to school each day. I vividly remember the experience of walking him into his class, depositing him at his little desk, kissing him and safely tucking him in for his half-day of learning.
As the school year went along, I began to loosen my grip and would drop him off in the carpool line so he could walk in on his own.
He was always ready; I was not.
There was this long winding line of cars all preparing to release their precious cargo. I’ll never forget the day I dropped him off the first time to walk in by himself: My tiny boy got out of the car in his ironed uniform and his backpack on his back, stepped onto the path, and ran to the door—never looking back.
That image is burned into my brain: the tiny boy with everything he needed running away from me into the door of opportunity.
Right then and there I realized, this is it. This is my job: to prepare him—adequately dressed, supplies on hand (or on his back)—and then send him off charging ahead away from me through another door.
Fast forward again to today, when I drove him as I do each morning to catch his bus to high school. Each day I watch him as he exits the car, clothes on—perhaps a little wrinkly and not always quite matching, with his 50-pound backpack on his back. Now as a young man, he does look back and always reminds me that he loves me and wishes me a good day. He then turns and walks to the bus, away from the car with his back to me and through another door—never looking back.
I know I am rounding third base in this parenting thing, and I continue to learn so much from each of my children. The first thing I have learned is that parenting is hard. I used to think that these kiddos were mine to teach, and I have come to realize that they are here to teach me.
I used to think that these kiddos were mine to teach, and I have come to realize that they are here to teach me.
I love them each to the core for exactly who they are, and I am still learning from these incredibly unique life instructors. As the toilet paper roll of life continues to spin, I am a little less intense, letting go more, and striving to stay fiercely present as they each prepare to run toward their own door.