Savoring the Moments
The Importance of Family Bonding and Making Special Memories
article by Cindy G. Foust
I’ve been preparing my readers for nearly a year now, so be warned: this column is going to be a little sappy as it coincides with my son’s high school graduation. You knew it was coming, I’ve tried to warn you, and lo and behold, here we are.
The question is…how am I going to make it through? I cried when I picked out his senior pictures today; I cried on senior night for his baseball team; I cried when I was cleaning out my daughter’s bookcases (see, I do practice what I preach and have been “spring” cleaning and cleaning out my entire house for the last month) when I came across Little Rabbit Foo-Foo because that was his favorite book we used to read, or one of them; and the other day, I just pulled over in the parking lot at the new ice cream parlor (can I use that word or does it sound a little too Little House on the Prairie?) and just cried my eyes out thinking about what the next few months will involve for me as a mother and a parent.
I did, however, decide to comfort myself with banana pudding ice cream served up in a waffle cone, just to make myself feel better, since I was, coincidentally, in the parking lot of an ice cream parlor. But I digress.
I’ve been doing a lot of that lately, friends, thinking that is. Just a warning to my readers, that never bodes well for you, because, well, most of the time I translate a lot of that “thinking” into the words of this column. As you may know, or if you are just catching up with me for the first time, I share a lot of my life, (or other people’s lives, if you have a particularly useful experience we can learn from) with my readers. Some months it can be a good thing, and some it can be bad…it just depends on what “crisis” I’m dealing with.
In that somewhat ice cream-induced state of mind I recently experienced, I sat in the parking lot (luckily, no one reported me for loitering or worse, called the appropriate authorities to haul an obviously hysterical woman away…far far away) and began to think about how my son’s high school graduation would be yet another moment that would change my life forever. Not in the sense that he’s going anywhere, well, except to college four hours away, when, for the last 19 years, he’s merely been four feet away from my bedroom every night. No, what I mean is how our entire family’s life will be changed, the family dynamic so to speak. It will, in a few words, also change me. But there was another moment, not so many years ago, 19 to be exact, that also changed me, and that’s when I was handed this same little baby boy, to be mine (and Scott’s, when I would let him hold him), forever. The world truly seemed to stop spinning on its axis and I felt like the air had been sucked from the room.
What in the cat hair was I going to do with this beautiful little golden yellow (he was jaundiced…a condition I fretted over and cried over and thought it was the worst thing ever for him to have to sleep under a Bilirubin blanket, but as it turns out, his liver was fine, and so was he) baby?
There’s no instruction manual; there’s no crystal ball to peer into; and most importantly, my mom wasn’t going to be able to move in with us and help care for this little bundle of joy.
No, it suddenly felt like someone dropped me at the mall and forgot to come pick me back up. But as you know, time doesn’t slow down and wait on you to catch up, so out of the starting gate we went, down the proverbial “yellow brick road” of parenthood.
And what a journey it has been. In that single moment, that changed my life forever, that gave my life sudden perspective, sudden clarity, I became, in a few words, a better person. Scott and I moved from the mindset of “me” to the mindset of “him.” The parenting paths we’ve faced have been full of many experiences, and it has been a journey (gosh, I sound like I’m starring on an episode of The Bachelor) full of heartbreak, heartache (there is a marked difference), joy, happiness, sadness, mistakes (primarily by his parents), and most of all…love.
For you see, as I type the words to this column, with tears splattering the keys of my computer, I can’t imagine anything in the world I could love the same way that I love my children… or more fiercely. It is a gift that I treasure, this role of “mother,” and there is not a word I love more or that I would rather hear, than when one of my children call me that.
So, I’m searching fervently, at this point readers, to find a mask online, that I can plaster on my face, to hold it in place, and prevent the “ugly” cry, in public, over the next few weeks. And perhaps I will also be able to find a mask to put over my heart, as I send my son out into this flawed world that we live, to prevent the break that I know is coming when he leaves our home to begin this new chapter of his life.
As I work hard to remember every little nuance about the last 19 years, every little joke he told, every little mistake he made, every little hug he gave, I know these moments will sustain our family on those days when we want him to breeze through the kitchen and ask, “what’s for supper” or, “can I have some money to go eat with my friends?”
I warned you readers, it’s the mood I’ve been dealt; hence, it’s the column you’ve been dealt, and as I bring it to a close, I would encourage those of you out there with small children (hey, I still have a 5th grader at home, so that includes me, too), to savor every moment, even the difficult parenting moments. It goes by way too fast, and you go from putting your little kindergartener on the bus to snotting all over yourself picking out their senior pictures.
I work hard, using the words of this column, to advocate for family bonding, and making special memories when the occasion arises or presents itself. But the truth is, every day has the opportunity to be a special memory, we have the chance to make every day be memorable, we just have to make the effort, and slow down long enough to make it happen.
So, when you see me again next month, I will be the mother of a high school graduate (I know not the first, for those of you who might be inclined to be rolling your eyes just a bit), forging ahead with the next chapter of his life and our lives. But more importantly, I will still be a mother, still looking for that instruction manual to help my son navigate these early adult years (quite frankly, I’m still looking for the “how to” book to navigate middle age, so if anyone has a copy, please loan it out.)
Happy May readers, for those of you celebrating “motherhood,” “graduation,” or the fact that this sappy column has come to an end. Next month: herb gardening for dummies. I know you can’t wait!