“Congratulations Graduates!!” In two short months, I will hear this exact phrase as my younger son Owen walks across the stage for his high school graduation. It seems like yesterday that Owen’s older brother Brandon walked across that same stage. As hard as it was for me to realize how it would affect me that my first-born was graduating, this time, it is even harder. With Brandon, I didn’t REALLY understand how difficult it would be when he left for college. Now, I am FULLY aware of how hard it will be when Owen leaves. While my nest will not be completely empty (my daughter is still in school), it is getting harder and harder with each little birdie that leaves.
The senior year of high school is an exciting time for soon-to-be graduates; however, it is often a time of mixed emotions for us parents. I feel proud and happy that my boys have been healthy and that they have grown in to upstanding young men. At the same time, I feel sadness and a sense of loss over how fast the last 18 (or 20) years have passed. How is it that my 9lb 7oz baby boy is graduating already? I think, why didn’t I take more time to enjoy those little humans as they toddled and then ran all around the house? Why didn’t I embrace all those moments while they were little instead of wishing them away? How is that my boys are adults? How fast are the next four years going to pass? As I type this, I cannot help but shed a few tears. Tears of joy: that my kids are healthy, happy and seemingly well-adjusted young adults, as well as tears of sadness: that I did did not spend more time simply enjoying each and every moment with my kids while they were kids, even when they made a mess or had a bit of a melt-down.
I recently attended mindfulness training. As we reviewed the lessons and practiced some of the techniques, I found myself thinking about how much I have missed out on by not paying more attention to the here and now. I have been trying hard to be more mindful and to appreciate what is right in front of me instead of thinking about tomorrow or next week or next year. When my son wants to talk to me (rare moments it seems), I purposely stop what I am doing and look at his handsome, somewhat grown-up face (no longer that cute little boy). I want him to know that he is important to me. Besides, I know that in a short time he will not be here everyday, so I am trying to soak up every moment I can.
The next couple months are going to be gone in the blink of an eye. Owen had his senior pictures taken last weekend because I wanted them to reflect what he looks like now, not 6 months ago. He is applying for summer jobs to make some money to help off-set the cost of college. He decided he is going to his senior prom, but he is not taking a date. We are planning his graduation party, or I should say, I am planning his party. In the midst of all these preparations and celebrations, I am trying to take in and enjoy every moment. I know all too well how quickly August will come when I am sending yet another son off to college. I am going to try to be more present in all situations so that I don’t wonder where the time went or why I didn’t pay attention and realize just how precious those little moments were before they were gone.